After four months, Emmaus High School in Emmaus, Penn. finally released links to four videos it showed to students this past spring, after a Christian law firm intervened to defend the rights of parents to know what the public school is showing their children. The school defended the videos as anti-bullying, but they promoted a one-sided agenda with which parents may not agree. The school had refused to make the videos public, arguing that they were students’ private work.
“The URLs, which parents and the [American Family Association of Pennsylvania] had been told were all about anti-bullying, proved to be quite the opposite. They were very much promoting homosexuality and transgenderism to a captive audience of children,” Dianne Gramley, president of the Pennsylvania chapter of the American Family Association (AFA), said in a news release Friday. She reported that parents had requested the videos going back to May, shortly after they were shown to a captive audience of students.
The school showed the videos to students in the morning announcements on April 27, which the LGBT activist group GLSEN has designated a “Day of Silence” to spread awareness of the bullying of LGBT people. Gramley joined local parents Michael Huff and Michelle Blagbrough in June, demanding the videos be shown to parents, so they could know what the school was promoting to their children.
Superintendent Michael Schiller refused to show the clips to the parents. “Student work and student expression must always be protected,” Schilder told Allentown’s The Morning Call. “A parent or a member of the public has no right to view or access a student’s term paper, speech, or multimedia project just because he or she objects to the topic.”
In her news release Friday, Gramley shot back against the idea that the videos were students’ work. “Additionally, the released emails showed much collusion between administrators and faculty in the showing of these videos during homeroom the last week of April leading up to the Gay Day of Silence. It would be a stretch to describe this as a totally student-led activity.”
The four videos briefly addressed bullying, but they mostly focused on presenting homosexuality and transgenderism as objects of pride.
The first video, “Show your Pride. Share your love. #ProudToLove,” started with a montage of teens “coming out” to their parents, leading into many images of people of the same-sex kissing, and even featuring former President Barack Obama celebrating Pride Month.
The second video, “9 Questions Gay People Have for Straight People,” pushed the myth of overpopulation and attacked the idea that same-sex weddings are different from opposite-sex weddings.
The third video, “Non-binary: The gender beyond he or she,” advocated the “gender spectrum,” showing people who identified as “agender” and asked to be referred to with special pronouns.
The last video, “Bill Nye on Sexuality and Gender Spectrum,” came from Bill Nye’s “Bill Nye Saves the World,” in which the science popularizer claimed, “The science says we’re all on a spectrum.” He advocated transgenderism without even mentioning the genetic facts of biological sex — which he clearly discussed in a 1990s skit which Netflix decided to cut from the show when it was made available last year.
The high school’s Gay Straight Alliance chose the videos — or perhaps approved them after faculty had selected them? — to push a specific message.
It makes sense for the Gay Straight Alliance and GLSEN to spread awareness about the bullying of LGBT people. All bullying is wrong, and people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender should not be hounded or attacked for their identities.
However, parents should be able to know what their children are learning in school, and taxpayers should know what kind of education is being provided to children at their expense.
Tragically, the school denied the parents’ request to see the videos, so AFA’s Diane Gramley reached out to the Christian legal nonprofit Liberty Counsel for help.
The East Penn School District released some of the titles and descriptions of the videos shown in April, but they released the links only after Liberty Counsel submitted a Right to Know request. Pennsylvania Code states that schools must adopt policies giving parents or guardians “access to information about the curriculum,” Lehigh Valley Live reported. The law also states that parents have the right to excuse their children from instruction that “conflicts with their religious beliefs.”
“The school should have provided the information up front rather than make the parents jump through numerous hoops and then in the end deny their requested URLs,” Gramley said. “Parents should not have had to go digging for the information.”
Many outlets have noted that both AFA and Liberty Counsel are on the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC)’s list of “hate groups” for their opposition to LGBT activism. Few of these outlets also noted that the SPLC recently apologized to the Muslim reformer Maajid Nawaz, paying him a $3.375 million settlement after falsely branding him an “anti-Muslim extremist.” After that settlement, Liberty Counsel told PJ Media that about 60 organizations falsely branded “hate groups” are considering separate defamation suits against the SPLC.
The key issue in this case is not LGBT activism as such, but rather the school’s refusal to let parents know what their children are being taught. If students are to be presented with one-sided lessons on a key political and cultural issue, parents have the right to know, whether or not they agree with the school’s position.