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Jan 28

The ‘Gay Agenda’: Phillips vs Hari

Posted on Friday, January 28, 2011 in gay rights, human rights

The hateful HateMail firebrand has actually gone public to defend her outrageous attack on the ‘gay agenda’. It’s a horrible, mean-spirited defence of a horrible, mean-spirited article. Of course she argues she and her fellow Christianists are the real victims – they have no choice but to say she’s standing up for ‘principles’, ‘normality’ and the country’s ‘basic moral framework’ – it’s pretty much the only way she can defend such naked, anti-gay hate. But read for yourself:

In an email, she wrote: “I’m sorry if what I wrote has offended some of your readers. You tell me that they may regard it as ‘over the top’. In fact, that is how I would describe some of the reaction to what I wrote.

“I have nothing against gay people and would always defend them against true prejudice – as I did in my article, and as I often do when considering the threat posed to them by radical Islamism. What does concern me, however, is the ‘gay rights’ political agenda which, as activists have often made clear, aims to change the basic moral framework of society.

What she means is gay people must know their place. As long as we accept we’re abnormal and unequal she’ll defend us against true prejudice (whatever that is).

“I am very surprised that readers may be offended by my suggestion that this agenda aims to destroy ‘normal’ sexual behaviour; as Andrew Sullivan made clear in his famous book, ‘Virtually Normal’, this is indeed a core aim.

“As for the issue of the teaching materials I would have thought that, given your readers’ concern for civil liberties, they would be disturbed by any manipulation of the school curriculum to promote a particular viewpoint about any group. There is no evidence at all that any such initiative has ever diminished any kind of prejudice or bullying in schools.

Yes there is – such an utter lie, but let me jump on the phrase ‘manipulation of the school curriculum to promote a particular viewpoint about … group’ and the nasty subtext contained therein. First off the Schools Out teaching materials for LGBT History Month are just that – additions which could be made to certain classes to inform children and young people about gay people if they want. How terrible it would be for gay kids to find out about the contributions made to society about other gay people. How terrible it would be for gay kids to be spoken about in classrooms as normal. Yet even that is disparaged by Phillips:

“And I know that many gay people are very decently troubled by my central point, that the equality agenda is depriving Christians of their rights to live their lives in accordance with their principles.

“I hope this helps explain my position more fully.”

It does. She’s arguing that Christian zealots should be allowed to discriminate freely based on belief alone.

Johann Hari on the other hand demonstrates that hate such has hers has consequences:

Jonathan Reynolds was a 15-year old boy from Bridgend in South Wales who was accused – accurately or not, we’ll never know – of being gay. He was yelled at for being a “faggot” and a “poof”. So one day, he sat a GSCE exam – later graded as an A – and went to the train tracks near his school and lay on them. He texted his sister: “Tell everyone that this is for anybody who eva said anything bad about me, see I do have feelings too. Blame the people who were horrible and injust to me, see I do have feeling too. Blame the people who were horrible and injust to me. This is because of them, I am human just like them. None of you blame yourself, mum, dad, Sam and the rest of the family. This is not because of you.” And then the train killed him.

I guess nobody told Jonathan Reynolds that, as the columnist Melanie Phillips put it, “just about everything in Britain is now run according to the gay agenda.” The great Gay Conquest didn’t make it from her imagination to his playground, or any playground in Britain. Gay kids are six times more likely to commit suicide than their straight siblings. Every week, I get emails from despairing gay kids who describe being thrown against lockers, scorned by their teachers if they complain, and – in some faith schools – told they will burn in Hell. Every day they have to brave playgrounds where the worst insult you can apply is to call something “gay”. They feel totally lost. This could have been your child, or my child, or Melanie Phillips’ child.

Melanie Phillips can go straight to hell.

Jan 24

The Attacks on LGBT History Month Begin

Posted on Monday, January 24, 2011 in gay rights, human rights

From the HateMail:

Young children are to be taught about homosexuality in their maths, geography, science and English lessons, it has emerged.

As part of a Government-backed drive to ‘celebrate the gay community’, maths problems could be introduced that involve gay characters.

In geography classes, students will be asked why homosexuals move from the countryside to cities – and words such as ‘outing’ and ‘pride’, will be used in language classes.

The lesson plans are designed to raise awareness about lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual issues and, in theory, could be used for children as young as four.

They will also mean youngsters are exposed to images of same-sex couples and books such as And Tango Makes Three, which tells the story of two male penguins raising a chick, which was inspired by events at New York’s Central Park Zoo.

The HateMail is so sick. ‘Are to be taught?’ Really? When the materials are optional? And the scaremongering about younger children learning about same-sex relationships – what’s that about? Is anyone suggesting they start watching hardcore gay porn? No. The material the HateMail is decrying references a real world example of same-sex behaviour in the animal kingdom. Do they think they would get away with such bigoted reporting if it were about race? Of course not – they still think that attacking gay people is fair game though. It isn’t.

From the Telegraph:

Lesson plans have been drawn up for pupils as young as four, in a scheme funded with a £35,000 grant from an education quango, the Training and Development Agency for Schools.

The initiative will be officially launched next month at the start of “LGBT History Month” – an initiative to encourage teaching about lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual issues.

The lesson plans, spread across the curriculum, will be offered to all schools, which can choose whether or not to make use of them.

But critics last night called the initiative a poor use of public money which could distract from the teaching of “core” subjects.

At least the Torygraph acknowledges the teaching materials are optional, but check out Melanie Phillips’ latest hardcore rant:

Alas, this gay curriculum is no laughing matter. Absurd as it sounds, this is but the latest attempt to brainwash children with propaganda under the ­camouflage of ­education. It is an abuse of childhood.

It’s an abuse of childhood to educate children appropriately about same-sex relationships? That’s batshit crazy and she knows it.

And it’s all part of the ruthless campaign by the gay rights lobby to destroy the very ­concept of normal sexual behaviour.

So we’re back to gay = abnormal. This may have been a normal argument itself about 25 years ago but it isn’t now. Homosexuality has always been with us and exists throughout the animal kingdom. It’s no more harmful than heterosexuality, it isn’t a choice and is by any reasonable definition normal. Mad Mel is getting lost in her own mad hyperbole again.

Not so long ago, an epic political battle raged over teaching children that ­homosexuality was normal. The fight over Section 28, as it became known, resulted in the repeal of the legal requirement on schools not to promote homosexuality.

As the old joke has it, what was once impermissible first becomes tolerated and then becomes mandatory.

Except it’s not mandatory. Nothing like a lie, eh Mel?

And the other side of that particular coin, as we are now discovering, is that values which were once the moral basis for British society are now deemed to be beyond the pale.

Right so homophobia was the moral basis for society eh? How lost she must feel now then. And how alone she should be.

What was once an attempt to end ­unpleasant attitudes towards a small sexual minority has now become a kind of bigotry in reverse.

Expressing what used to be the moral norm of Western civilisation is now not just socially impermissible, but even turns upstanding people into lawbreakers.

People who break the law are lawbreakers. The law doesn’t allow anyone to break the law, even on religious grounds and nor should it. Fuck off and grow up Mel. The world has moved on, and if even Tories have accepted that then it shows just how out of touch you and your hate rag really are. It was inevitable that there would be a mini backlash after the failings of the Christian devout to get their own way, but this is ridiculous. And futile. She (and they) won’t succeed in turning the clock back.

Oct 27

Making Homophobia History

Posted on Wednesday, October 27, 2010 in Community, gay rights, human rights

from the Guardian

by Sue Learner

‘I’ve had pupils say ‘Miss, you are trying to turn us gay’ and I ask them, ‘do you turn black during Black History Month or Turkish during Turkish month?’” Elly Barnes, a music teacher at Stoke Newington school in north London, is used to tackling such questions. Prompted by seeing homophobia around her in school on many occasions, she now runs Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (LGBT) History Month here every February.

LGBT History Month was launched nationally by the lobby group SchoolsOut five years ago, and Stoke Newington school was one of the first to celebrate the event by integrating it into the curriculum. But the school has now gone one step further and become a diversity training centre, training teachers from both primary and secondary schools on equal opportunity policies, giving advice on resources and demonstrating LGBT practice lessons.

“My focus is eradicating homophobia from all schools and educational establishments by giving staff the confidence and resources to do it, along with demonstrating good practice and changing opinions under the banner of ‘educate and celebrate’,” says Barnes, who is the diversity course leader.

At the first session, Barnes briefs teachers, PGCE students and an educational psychologist on current policy and equal opportunities. Then she moves on to the part many teachers dread and fear – teaching children about LGBT.

“Many teachers are scared of celebrating LGBT as they are worried pupils will judge them and will assume they are gay,” she says. “In fact, to them, we are just a blob giving them information. Over the five years, I’ve only had three pupils ask whether I am gay.”

The teachers on the training day are keen to watch the practice lesson. A group of year 7 pupils troop into the classroom. Barnes plays a clip from the film Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, and asks them what they have seen. The children happily discuss transvestites and transsexuals and what they know. “There is a man at my auntie’s work who wears a skirt and has really hairy legs,” says one child. “Crisscross is where you like both men and women,” offers another.

Florence, aged 12, tells the class about the first wedding she went to. “It was a gay wedding and they were called Andrew and Eric, and I wanted to be a bridesmaid, but I had only known them for two years.”

Barnes asks them what they know about the words lesbian, gay and bisexual. Josiah, aged 11, brings up the issue of religion, saying: “The pope opposes homosexuality, but I don’t know why, as I think everyone should have free will.”

Barnes finishes the class saying: “The message I want to leave you with is that when you are giggling with your friends and your friend falls over and you say that is gay, think about the language you’re using.”

Afterwards, Florence says the lesson “was really valuable, as before this, we didn’t know much about gays and lesbians apart from what our parents told us”.

Josiah thinks “it is good to learn about it and people shouldn’t feel disgusted by it as lesbians and gays have the same feelings as everyone else”.

Jaden, aged 11, recounts how at his last school, “some children told another boy he shouldn’t be gay and it was kind of sad and I stuck up for him”.

Sefkan, aged 11, says the lesson was an eye-opener. “It changed my ideas about gays and lesbians as I thought it was something wrong. But it is not something wrong. In our primary school, a lot of people got bullied for being gay even though they weren’t.”

Schools often worry about how parents will react to lessons and assemblies on LGBT, and Barnes says: “It is vital we keep coming back to that word, educating not influencing.”

Over the five years, she has had only a handful of complaints. “A parent complained after her son told her he had seen a film at the school that showed two men kissing. I told her we are an inclusive school and it is part of the curriculum,” says Barnes.

On one occasion, she says, a pupil shouted abuse at her in assembly. “He was promptly removed by the head of year, and the student later came to apologise to me after talking through the issues with a behaviour mentor. A celebration of this kind is only possible with the help and support of colleagues,” she says.

Anna Gluckstein, head of ICT, relates how she once had a boy standing at the back of the class chanting “batty man, batty man” (a Jamaican term for a gay man). The lesson was on Alan Turing, a mathematician, pioneer of computer science and war-time code-breaker. “I was telling them how in the 1950s, he was arrested and tried for homosexuality and given the option of going to prison or taking injections of female hormones. He chose the injections. Two years later he committed suicide.

“When I do this lesson,” says Gluckstein, “it is to a class of children from different cultures and religions and they all tend to say that is not right, he was being oppressed. There are, of course, ones like this boy, who shout out batty man, but even he came round in the end.”

Barnes says homophobic bullying has more or less been eradicated in the school in the last five years. One key factor has been empowering pupils to report bullying.

She says: “By exploring the definitions of LGBT and looking at famous LGBT people in history, we’ve managed to change opinions and we have had a number of pupils come out during their time at school here. We have also changed the language used in the school. I used to hear the word gay being used all the time, as a derogatory term. Now we hardly hear that.”

A recent report by the Equalities and Human Rights Commission into fairness in the UK found that two-thirds of lesbian, gay and transgender students have suffered homophobic bullying and 17% have received death threats. Nearly half of secondary school teachers in England say homophobic bullying is common and only one in six believe their school is very active in promoting the rights of gay pupils.

“Every school celebrates Black History Month. Why don’t they all celebrate LGBT History Month?” says Barnes. “My dream is to take this celebration into every school and make it a statutory requirement of the curriculum.”