SCOTTSDALE, Arizona, August 31, 2012, (LifeSiteNews.com) – Two leading U.S. Christian advocacy groups have joined forces to create a guideline to assure school anti-bullying policies protect all students from bullying and are not being used simply to advance the homosexual agenda.
Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), in a joint effort with Focus on the Family, has announced the “Anti-Bullying Policy Yardstick,” which allows public schools and the general public to evaluate thelegal aspects of a school’s anti-bullying rules.
“All students deserve to be protected from bullying, not just ones favored by certain political activist groups,” said Alliance Defending Freedom Legal Counsel Jeremy Tedesco. “And all schools need help to ensure that their policies comport with their students’ First Amendment freedoms and other legal protections. This tool is designed to provide that help.”
The Yardstick outlines the good and bad approaches to the top 10 most common components of school anti-bullying policies and will help detect strictly pro-homosexual programs propagated in the name of “safe schools” or “anti-bullying.”
Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys stress that schools do not need to adopt “anti-bullying” policies to prevent bullying, because school officials already possess authority to prohibit student intimidation.
However, according to the Yardstick, a good anti-bullying policy “provides a precise definition of ‘bullying’” and “focuses on the acts or words said by the alleged bully rather than the intent or motives behind the actions.”
A bad anti-bullying policy, on the other hand, “uses vague and overly broad definitions of bullying,” prohibiting such offenses as “offensive” and “annoying” speech, making others feel “uncomfortable,” and inflicting ill-defined “mental harm.” It also punishes the alleged bully based on the alleged victim’s perceptions of his behavior, without any inquiry into the behavior’s objective content.
Such vagueness, ADF argues, fails to give students adequate definitions of prohibited actions, allows broad discretion in enforcement, and constricts student expression that is protected by the First Amendment.
The Yardstick also deals with teacher liability, cyber-bullying and off-campus speech, promotion of political agendas, parental notification, anonymous complaints, and recognizing the rights of private schools.
The ADF notes that the homosexual lobby is demanding that protections for ‘sexual orientation’ and ‘gender identity’ be inserted into existing anti-bullying policies, so that inappropriate sexual material can be promulgated to school children.
“Schools are being transformed from places of safety and learning to places of unprecedented sexual education,” a press release states.
Tedesco illustrates the point by noting the unfortunate situation where “activist groups that promote homosexual behavior often dupe schools into adopting policies that protect students based on their ‘sexual orientation’ or ‘gender identity,’ which can unconstitutionally silence students who want to express their biblically based views on sexuality.”
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For example, the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) that have sent letters to public school districts nationwide, pressuring them to promote activists’ messages about sexuality, while at the same time encouraging them to censor differing viewpoints.
The Yardstick project is backed up by facts, statistics and response strategies presented in Focus on the Family’s True Tolerance project.
True Tolerance gives parents, students, and educators proactive resources to enable them to identify homosexual program materials, and guidelines on how to approach school officials.
School officials can be presented with a model anti-bullying policy that encompasses what Focus on the Family believes are the three most effective objectives to stop bullying, namely: 1) protect children by strongly prohibiting bullying of any kind against any child for any reason, 2) respect local control, allowing school officials and parents to develop solutions that best meet their particular school’s needs and 3) do not unnecessarily politicize or sexualize the issue in a way that undermines parental rights and students’ religious freedoms.
The True Tolerance website also provides a legal memorandum produced by ADF and fact-based responses to claims made by homosexual advocacy groups.
The various documents and resources have been compiled into packets, complete with a cover letter from the Alliance Defending Freedom that can be printed and delivered, or emailed, to school officials.
“When it comes to protecting your family’s rights and safeguarding your child’s innocence, it’s so important to be proactive,” Focus on the Family and Alliance Defending Freedom advise. “Don’t wait for bad situations or age-inappropriate materials to surface in your school. Take action now by sharing these new resources directly with your state representatives and/or local school board members and school officials.”
“This new Anti-Bullying Policy Yardstick helps schools identify which policies are driven by a narrow political agenda and which ones protect First Amendment freedoms,” Tedesco said.
ADF’s “Anti-Bullying Policy Yardstick” is available here.
Focus on the Family’s “True Tolerance” information packets are available here.