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The Southern Poverty Law Center Pushes LGBT Issues in Schools in the Name of Tolerance

a boy holds up cut outs of a man and a woman, looking confused as he chooses between them.

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), a group which earned its reputation fighting racist organizations like the Ku Klux Klan but now brands mainstream nonprofits as "hate groups," has also launched a program for teaching children to view LGBT identities as good and healthy, even going so far as bribing teachers to push this messaging.

"Binary notions of gender, biology and sexual orientation exclude large swaths of human diversity," the SPLC's "Teaching Tolerance" program explains on its website. "This diversity can be better understood by using spectrum-based models. Spectra make room for anyone whose experiences do not narrowly fit into binary choices such as man/woman, feminine/masculine or straight/gay."

The "Teaching Tolerance" program, launched in 1991, "provides free resources to educators — teachers, administrators, counselors and other practitioners — who work with children from kindergarten through high school." The program aims to "reduce prejudice, improve intergroup relations and support equitable school experiences for our nation's children."

"Teaching Tolerance" boasts a community including "more than 500,000 educators who read our magazine, screen our films, visit our website, participate in Mix It Up at Lunch Day, use our curriculum or participate in our social media community."

Many aspects of the project are laudable. Teaching Tolerance is also a free magazine sent to educators, addressing the issues of race & ethnicity, religion, ability, class, immigration, gender & sexual identity, bullying & bias, and rights & activism.

The SPLC made its name fighting the KKK, and its work in revealing racist groups — both white and black — is laudable. The group's efforts to promote tolerance of people of different races, religions, and abilities may deserve praise from both Right and Left.

As with other projects from the SPLC, however, the program has a clear bias. The "Teaching Tolerance" section on "rights & activism" praises the women's suffrage movement and the civil rights movement — but also emphasizes the issue of "Standing Rock," the controversial, long, and dirty protest against an oil pipeline. The immigration section also offers help for teachers looking to offer "undocumented" students support.

This slant should not be surprising. After all, the SPLC is the same organization which lists Christian organizations like D. James Kennedy Ministriesthe Family Research Council (FRC), Liberty Counsel, the American Family Association (AFA), and Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) on its list of "hate groups" along with the KKK.

To make matters worse, the group has listed innocent towns on its "hate map," and presented ever-changing reasons for listing reformist Muslim Maajid Nawaz as an "anti-Muslim extremist." (Among those reasons was his visit to a strip club for his bachelor party.) Most egregious perhaps was the group's listing of elementary schools on a map of Confederate monuments.

The SPLC's political slant also shades the "Teaching Tolerance" perspective on LGBT issues, and it suggests teachers push these issues on young children.

In 2012, the SPLC sent an email:

Queerness Meets Early Childhood Ed.

Are you a gay or lesbian teacher who has addressed queerness with your young students? An LGBT parent with P-2 children? We want to hear your stories. Send a description of 200 words or less, along with your contact information, to [email protected].

The SPLC was asking for stories about teaching kids in pre-kindergarten to second grade about lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender issues.

Also in 2012, the group pushed a lesson for kindergarten through fifth grade:

Do Something! Transforming Critiques of Gender Stereotypes into Activism

One of the most empowering ways to overcome the damage done by internalized gender stereotypes is to counteract them actively—on a daily basis. … Children benefit from participating in such activism because it helps them understand the socially constructed nature of gender. Activism also encourages constructive change so that they are not damaged by stereotypes.

In this lesson, students will discuss the meaning and nature of activism. They will brainstorm daily strategies they can use against gender stereotypes. They will also come up with ideas for bigger social action projects in their schools and communities.

Not only did "Teaching Tolerance" push a lesson deconstructing gender, it also aimed to turn students into LGBT activists.

In 2013, two years before the Supreme Court case Obergefell v. Hodges legalized same-sex marriage across America, the SPLC's education outfit published "The Gender Spectrum," about a "genderqueer" fourth grade kid named Alex who identified as neither male nor female. "So, boy or girl? Perhaps we’ve been asking the wrong question all along."

A "Teaching Tolerance" article from last July attempted to dispel six "myths" about transgenderism.

One "myth" was that "transgender identity is a mental illness," to which Rick Mula confused gender dysphoria (the medical condition of persistent identification with the opposite sex) with transgender identity, the decision to identify with the opposite sex publicly.

Mula insisted that those who struggle with gender dysphoria "can relieve this pain and discomfort through authentic expression of their gender," dismissing out of hand that the pain and discomfort might be a result of their confused identity. Instead, he argued that any "mental health issues" were a result of "discrimination and disapproval."

More worrisome, Mula also "debunked" the "myth" that "Children aren't old enough to know their gender identity." He insisted that "many children know their gender identity from a very young age," but did not ever suggest that children might be mistaken or change their minds about it, as some have done.

This kind of activism is particularly dangerous, as some schools have already adopted policies to teach children as young as kindergarten about transgender identity. Kindergarteners have been traumatized by a "gender reveal" party — afraid they might change genders themselves. At least one school in Minnesota has announced that not only will kindergarteners learn about transgenderism, but their parents won't even be notified.

But "Teaching Tolerance" soldiers on.

In 2014, the SPLC's education program offered to pay teachers $250 to attend a training in Hawaii. State Rep. Bob McDermott filed an ethics complaint against an education superintendent for refusing to halt the programs.

"Are Hawaii teachers being bribed to promote a specific point of view in these materials to their students?" McDermott asked. "I want political agendas, right or left, out of the schools."

The state representative declared, "I want the teachers to spend the precious little time they have with students teaching them in the basics. English teacher should focus on English, things like sentence structure, and not some mainlander's political viewpoint of social justice. Make no mistake, this program only presents one side of the story."

McDermott explained that the program's "agenda" included "social engineering," a "disproportionate focus on normalizing homosexuality," and attempts to discredit Christian beliefs.

"The theme of this curriculum is so called 'anti-bias' unless, of course, you are a person of faith," McDermott added. "One example is the following: 'Patrick is being raised in a very strict and exclusionary fundamentalist Christian home...' If that is not biased I don't know what is."

The SPLC's history does indeed suggest such a bias. Not only does the organization brand mainstream Christian groups "hate groups" for their positions on LGBT issues, but it continued to do so even after that designation inspired a terrorist attack.

In August 2012, Floyd Lee Corkins II broke into the Family Research Council (FRC), a Christian nonprofit in Washington, D.C., armed with a semi-automatic pistol and Chick-Fil-A chicken sandwiches. He shot an unarmed security guard in the attempt to kill everyone in the building.

Corkins pled guilty to committing an act of terrorism and was sentenced to 25 years in prison. He later testified to the FBI that he intended to move on to other groups after decimating the FRC, and that he targeted these groups because they were listed as "anti-gay groups" on the SPLC website.

This past summer, James Hodgkinson opened fire at a Republican practice for the Congressional Baseball Game, nearly killing Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.). Hodgkinson had "liked" the SPLC on Facebook, and the SPLC had repeatedly attacked Scalise as a white supremacist, even after he apologized for giving one speech to a white nationalist organization (and was attacked as a traitor by former KKK leader David Duke).

Just last week, Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) cited the SPLC, comparing an organization on its list of "hate groups" to the genocidal Cambodian dictator Pol Pot. CNN, NBC, and ABC have parroted the SPLC's "hate group" designations (which compare mainstream Christian and conservative groups to the Ku Klux Klan). CNN even posted the group's "hate map," which inspired a terror attack in 2012.

The idea that this organization's "hate list" would still be taken seriously after the attacks on FRC and Scalise is incredible — so 47 nonprofit leaders wrote an open letter to the media urging journalists to stop taking it seriously.

Apparently, they should have written another letter to America's educators. According to "Teaching Tolerance," 500,000 teachers use this leftist SPLC program as if it were a neutral anti-bullying resource, rather than a platform for transgender activism.

Parents should ask their children's teachers whether or not they have used "Teaching Tolerance" resources, and should insist that schools distance themselves from this leftist, terror-linked organization.