Will Schools Fall for Alliance Defending Faith-Based Bullying?

August 30, 2012  |  permalink

Who could be for bullying? Who would oppose efforts to deal with this unfortunate, sometimes tragic aspect of life in today’s schools? As it happens, a number of groups that claim to represent the “Christian viewpoint” have become vigorous opponents of many anti-bullying initiatives, claiming that such initiatives “discriminate” against their religious viewpoint.

On August 28, Focus on the Family and the ADF (formerly known as the Alliance Defense Fund, recently rebranded as the Alliance Defending Freedom) released what they call an Anti-Bullying Policy Yardstick, intended to “allow public schools and the general public” to “evaluate several legal aspects of a school’s proposed or existing policies.” While claiming that such guidelines help parents “protect their children” they are in fact an elaborate scheme to clear the way for faith-based exemptions for those who wish to target their fellow students for bigotry and bullying.

A list of policy ideals details the notion that bullying policies should not apply to “religious, political, philosophical, or other protected student speech.” Politicians in several states have tried to pass similar laws, which amount to a “license to bully.” These and other points in the model policy intentionally protect bullies while making students who are members of religious minorities, LGBT, or other frequently targeted groups more vulnerable to harassment.

Who are the folks supporting this initiative, and what are their core concerns? Alan Sears, the president, CEO, and general counsel of the ADF since its founding in 1993, co-wrote a book in 2003 titled “The Homosexual Agenda: Exposing the Principal Threat to Religious Freedom Today (Broadman & Holman),” alleging that the “radical homosexual activist community has adopted many of the techniques used in Nazi Germany” and that public schools are rife with “homosexual indoctrination.” At the heart of initiatives like the Anti-Bullying Policy Yardstick is a deeply hostile stance toward the institution of public education. The Yardstick’s promoters don’t seem concerned that their guidelines may end up ensnarling school administrators and districts in costly litigation. Perhaps, for them, that’s the whole point.

The Book
The Good News Club, by Katherine Stewart

The Good News Club: The Christian Right’s Stealth Assault on America’s Children

About the Author
author Katherine Stewart Katherine Stewart has written for The New York Times, the Atlantic, and the Guardian. She lives in New York City. Contact her. More →


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