Linda Harvey of the Christian group Mission: America said she wants kids to know that bullying is wrong. She also wants them to know that "something called gay" is wrong too.
In her new guide on how to talk to kids about homosexuality, Harvey writes, "It's not right to tell someone that being homosexual is okay. The person may be feeling sad because of being bullied, but never try to make him or [sic] feel better by saying "gay" is okay."
The guide compares being gay to overeating:
"Kids who are overweight are sometimes bullied, too. And we might want to make that person feel better. But it would be a mistake to say that overeating is a good thing, right?"
Harvey said she wrote the brochure in response to requests by parents concerned their kids will be exposed to the "sin of homosexuality." It's geared toward Christian children who attend public school because, she said, school curricula almost always present homosexuality in a positive light and she wanted to make sure children were given a different viewpoint.
She said she also believes it's important to counteract the misconception that traditional family values create bullying behavior.
"That is a false impression mainly put out there by pro-gay groups," she said. "You can both strongly object to bullying or harassment or cruelty of any kind and also object homosexuality -- the vast majority of the country holds both opinions simultaneously."
Mission: America is considered a hate group by gay and civil rights organizations. The gay support group Truth Wins Out refers to Harvey as "the most bigoted woman in America." GLAAD president, Herndon Graddick, said this latest publication proves the point.
"Encouraging young people to reject or speak out against a peer because of something they can't change is bullying at its worst. Thankfully, millions of Americans including teachers, athletes, and faith leaders disagree with anti-gay activists like Lisa Harvey and are giving young people the support they so critically need by reminding them that it's okay to be who you are," he said.
Further angering pro-gay groups, Harvey's brochure says, "no one needs to be gay," implying that homosexuality is a choice a person can change whenever they want. That is directly at odds with the American Physiological Association's official position that "efforts to change sexual orientation have not been shown to be effective or safe."
Harvey also argued that gay children are no more likely to be to be bullied than anyone else. Yet according to the most recent survey by the Gay and Lesbian School Education Network (GLSEN), more than 80 percent of LGBT students reported being verbally harassed and almost 20 percent reported being physically assaulted at school in the past year because of their sexual orientation. Sixty percent of LGBT students reported feeling unsafe at school because of their sexual orientation and more than 40 percent felt unsafe because of their gender expression.
"We believe in evidence and research, which is why we've documented the experiences of LGBT youth in school for more than a decade," said GLSEN's executive director, Eliza Byard. "Our findings, and the findings of everyone else who has studied school climate and its impact on LGBT youth, have consistently shown that LGBT youth face extreme levels of harassment. There simply is no debate about this fact in the bullying prevention world."
Byard said it's unfortunate that people like Harvey prefer to live outside the consensus of research. She said it's deeply troubling that anyone would insinuate that it isn't important to make schools safe for LGBT youth.
But Harvey said that she does not want children who are gay to be bullied, despite the accusations to the contrary. She said she hopes this latest publication will help them too. "To me withholding the information that they don't have to go into this lifestyle is false propaganda. It's not settled science and it's not settled morality. Anyone who says differently is inventing new interpretations of Christian doctrine."
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