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September 30, 2010 Print
Candi Cushman

The Truth About GLSEN’s School Climate Report

by Candi Cushman

It’s a generally recognized principle that truly objective, scientific research should not be conducted by people who have a vested, political interest in the outcome. But this principle doesn’t seem to faze GLSEN (the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network.)

For years, GLSEN has pressured schools to introduce homosexual topics and books to kids as young as kindergarten. And its favorite method for justifying those demands is to trot out statistics from its very own National School Climate Survey (the latest report was released this September).

You might also notice that statistics from this report are constantly cited in national media when the issue of homosexual activism in schools is discussed. But what’s rarely acknowledged is that the data was compiled and interpreted entirely by GLSEN’s own in-house activists.

The latest report lists four authors—all of whom are employed by GLSEN, including Emily A. Greytak, who became involved with a GLSEN chapter 12 years ago and has worked for the organization since 2006; Elizabeth M. Diaz, who, as a GLSEN employee since 2004, conducts workshops opposing abstinence education; and GLSEN employee Mark J. Bartkiewicz, whose “research interests include LGBT students’ access to comprehensive sexual health education and the effects of inclusive LGBT curricula.”

Hardly what you’d call an objective research team—and then there’s the little fact that they are paid by an organization that has openly acknowledged its goal of getting gay, lesbian and transgender themes “fully integrated into curricula across a variety of subject areas and grade levels.”

So is it any surprise that one of the “conclusions and recommendations” from the latest National School Climate Survey is for schools to have more “inclusive curriculum” featuring homosexual and transgender themes?

But lack of objectivity isn’t the only problem. The data collection methods are also substandard—falling far short of offering a truly objective, national representation of how bullying affects millions of students. The gold standard for this type of research includes surveying a “random sample” of individuals comprised of people across the spectrum, not only those with a motivation or interest in the topic. Not so with the GLSEN research:

•GLSEN states that one of the purposes of its National School Climate Survey is to determine the “prevalence of anti-LGBT language and victimization” in schools. However, of the total 7,261 student surveys gathered by GLSEN, a large majority (67.4 percent) were White and more than half (57.1) were female.

•Furthermore, surveys were only solicited from those who “identified as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or a sexual orientation other than heterosexual … or identified as transgender or having a gender identity other than male, female, or transgender (e.g., genderqueer)”—which means valuable perspective from students who fell outside of this homosexual and “genderqueer” parameter was excluded.

•Then you have to consider how these data samples were collected. First, according to the GLSEN report, “participants were obtained through community-based groups or service organizations serving LGBT youth” –in other words, they were collected from homosexual advocacy organizations that obviously have a vested interest in data outcomes. Thirty-eight of these groups provided 355 surveys.

•Second, GLSEN posted the survey on its Web site—and then advertised its availability “on LGBT-youth oriented listservs and websites.” “Notices were also emailed to GLSEN chapters” and other “advocacy” organizations. Another 6,906 surveys were collected using the online method—including 1,185 from people responding to advertisements on MySpace, 2,683 responding to ads on Facebook and 3,038 from other online sources that GLSEN doesn’t clarify.

In summary, what this means is that most of the respondents “self-selected” to participate. Self-selection is a research technique known to have the most risk of generating unreliable and tainted results.

Basically, the problem with self-selection is that those who respond are most likely highly motivated to do so. By contrast, random sampling is more likely to garner responses from those who are not highly motivated as well as those who are—thus, giving a more accurate reflection of the totality of the problem. For instance, if you posted a notice on Facebook inviting motorcycle riders to respond to a survey about whether they are mistreated on the road, it’s likely that those who respond are highly motivated to do so because they have experienced this issue. Motorcycle riders who do not respond, on the other hand, probably haven’t experienced much of a problem. So unfortunately, we would still not have a clear picture about how the issue is really affecting the motorcycle population as a whole—as well as other drivers in general. Likewise, GLSEN’s report fails to give a truly representative look at how bullying affects the some 56 million students attending K-12 schools nationwide. So it’s unfortunate that control groups and random sampling were lacking in this study.

What this report does provide, however, is a revealing look at GLSEN’s long-term political goals—which go far beyond the issue of bullying prevention into the realm of political advocacy and attempts to alter individuals’ core beliefs, and even those of entire communities:

•“Schools can reflect the attitudes and beliefs of the communities in which they reside,” concludes the GLSEN report, indicating that the problems of gay and lesbian individuals are caused by wrong “attitudes in their local communities” and suggesting that “it may be important to increase the local community’s level of acceptance.” It doesn’t take too much of a stretch of the imagination to figure out which “communities” GLSEN has in mind—those with more faith-based or socially conservative viewpoints.

•In fact, the GLSEN report goes so far as to specifically single out “religious-affiliated private schools, from certain locales, such as a small towns or rural areas, and certain regions,” like “the South and the Midwest” as in need of more homosexual advocacy resources.

•GLSEN’s solution for fixing wrong attitudes? Get more homosexual-advocacy books, lessons and student clubs into the local schools, especially at the middle school level. (Note: The report’s emphasis on middle schools is interesting, considering that the majority of GLSEN’s survey respondents said they were in high school and reported an average age of 16.3 years.)

•One of GLSEN’s primary recommended “solutions” is more homosexual-advocacy clubs, also known as Gay Straight Alliances (GSAs)–which have a record of basically transforming students into lobbyists for GLSEN’s adult-oriented, political goals. For instance, in its start-up manual for GSA clubs, GLSEN tells kids that “community oppression” is defined as, “A lesbian attends a house of worship that preaches homosexuality is a sin.” Think about that: A group that wants free rein to promote its messages in public schools in the name of “tolerance” has no problem teaching that sermons that don’t align with its viewpoint should not be tolerated.

•GLSEN’s own description of these clubs in its School Climate report sounds more like a political ad than a safety tool: “Gay-Straight Alliances are often spaces where students can collectively organize to challenge anti-LGBT harassment and discriminatory school policies and practices, and educate their peers about these issues through school-wide events such as the National Day of Silence.”

•As we have reported before, GLSEN provides students celebrating the Day of Silence with materials that reveal a much more radical agenda than promoting “safe schools.” For example, in its Day of Silence “How to Get What You Want” tip sheet for kids, GLSEN encourages students to demand things like a “queer-friendly” prom and lobby for state legislation. Read more about that here.

•The GLSEN report also heavily pushes for schools to incorporate “positive representatives of LGBT topics in the curriculum.” This sounds nice on the surface. But to get an idea of what this might actually look like in practice, we need only examine the resources that GLSEN has already been promoting to educators and students, such as the “Homophobia Scale.” Described as appropriate for high school students, the scale teaches that “acceptance” and “tolerance” are “homophobic” attitudes. That’s right—even acceptance is no longer good enough. Nothing but complete “admiration” and students who are “willing to be allies and advocates” will do. Check it out for yourself here.

•And last but not least, we can’t forget the “Heterosexual Questionnaire,” a tool GLSEN has promoted for years as a way to “make schools safer places.” It includes questions such as, “If you’ve never slept with a person of the same-sex, is it possible that all you need is a good gay or lesbian lover?”

Again, these kinds of materials go far beyond the realm of safety prevention into political advocacy and even indoctrination.

Interestingly, GLSEN continues to promote its own resources as “solutions,” even though it acknowledges that for the last several years, “we have seen a significant increase in the availability of certain LGBT-related resources—specifically, GSAs …and LGBT-related materials in school libraries.” And still, its own surveys show that “students’ experiences of harassment and assault remained relatively constant over time.”

Clearly, GLSEN’s political advocacy is not getting at the root of the problem. The truth is, bullying is not simply a “gay” issue.” It’s a human issue. And it affects millions of kids every single day for a myriad of reasons. That’s why we believe schools should have strong policies that make it clear it’s wrong to harass or mistreat anyone for any reason. And that’s why we believe that the best approach to stopping bullying is through measures that emphasize that all people—regardless of what social subgroup they belong to–deserve to be respected and protected simply because they are persons and human beings, the unique creations of a living God.

Just to mention a few other goals revealed in the GLSEN report:

•It also targets school “spaces that are traditionally segregated by sex such as bathrooms and locker rooms.” In other words, GLSEN wants schools to let boys use girls’ restrooms, or girls use the boys’ locker rooms—even though the GLSEN report itself had to acknowledge that it could not base all of its assumptions on “actual victimization” in these spaces, preferring instead to base assertions on a “perceived threat.” We already see this agenda playing out in states like Maine, where public schools are under pressure from the Human Rights Commission to let boys use girls’ restrooms.

•And just in case not all teachers, parents and students agree with its agenda, GLSEN would like it enforced with a federal mandate. Its report calls for federal (and state) legislation that would force schools to include categories like “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” in their local policies. Again, while that may sound nice on the surface, we’ve documented how similar laws have already been used to undermine the rights of parents and justify mandated homosexuality lessons for elementary school kids.

To summarize, it is unfortunate that the GLSEN National School Climate Survey fails to provide a more objective and accurate statistical representation of student bullying problems nationwide. However, it can be read as a reliable road map of homosexual advocacy groups’ political plans for the nation’s public schools. If things go according to GLSEN’s schedule, for instance, homosexuality and transgender themes will soon be incorporated throughout taxpayer-funded curriculum—across all subjects for children as young as kindergarten, whether their parents like it or not. Schools will be forced to let boys use girls’ restrooms and girls use boys’ locker rooms—all in the name of an adult-oriented, “genderqueer” agenda. And teachers, parents and students whose worldview happens to differ from these goals, could eventually be forced to comply with all of this under the authority of federal mandates.

To find out more about the bullying issue and what you can do to respond to homosexuality promotion happening in your public schools, visit truetolerance.org



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