The First Amendment Center, along with BridgeBuilders, school administrators, conservative Christians, and pro-tolerance advocates, recently drafted a framework within which local communities can discuss sexual orientation and harassment within public schools. The agreement was based on the idea that all viewpoints deserve to be heard and that common ground can be reached. The Christian Educators Association International and the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network endorsed the proposal. (Previous XGW coverage.)
In an article published today at TownHall.com, exgay Chad Thompson and pundit Warren Throckmorton defend the proposal against gay-affirming and antigay critics (citing PFLAG and Ohio antigay activist Linda Harvey in particular) who assert that youths should only be exposed to certain points of view, and who deny that the opposing side is subjected to intolerance and bullying.
Thompson and Throckmorton advocate for the inclusion of exgay voices in balanced school discussions:
When mentioned in school, the lives of former homosexuals are often either discredited or ridiculed.
But that remark suggests 1) a resistance to the presentation of legitimate facts that discredit false claims or unethical conduct by certain exgay activists, and 2) a resistance to the inclusion of former exgays.
Nevertheless, Thompson and Throckmorton warn against those who deny the reality of harassment and bullying of same-sex-attracted youths:
If we want Christian values to be taken seriously, we must start by acknowledging the true suffering experienced by young men and women who are perceived to be or do identify as gay. And we must take a stand against their mistreatment even if we disagree with homosexuality on religious or moral grounds. Any other approach only increases the likelihood that impressionable and confused kids will join up with these gay advocacy groups. Conservatives who fail to compassionately address this issue further alienate the very kids we need to help, while the open arms of gay advocacy groups appear to be a place where these kids can be understood.
The authors’ effort to strike a balance is noteworthy. It remains to be seen how tolerant they would be of ex-ex-gay viewpoints in the schools.