Trotting Out the Ole "Gays as Child Predators" Line

Friday, December 09, 2005

Trotting Out the Ole "Gays as Child Predators" Line

Religious Right groups are at it again. In Montgomery County, Md., a Religious Right group is fighting efforts to include references to homosexuality in the sex education curriculum of the public schools. In doing so, the local group is subtly weaving code language into its literature that plays on the discredited notion that gay people seek to molest children or lure them into this "lifestyle."

According to the Washington Post, a leaflet circulated by the group reads:

Three organizations supporting homosexuality as natural and mainstream were appointed to the NEW Citizens Advisory Committee?

Homosexual advocacy groups are targeting Montgomery County children and families?
The group never refers directly to child molestation, which, of course, is what makes it so effective. It conveys the notion, but allows for plausible deniability. Conservative religious groups have often played this card. In 1978, they tried (unsucessfully) to exploit this fear to pass a ballot measure in California that would have banned gays and lesbians from teaching in the public schools -- the Briggs initiative.

Anti-gay groups choose their words very carefully, as is proven by this quote from the Post article:
"It's an adult-driven agenda to indoctrinate students,'' said Mike Johnson, senior legal counsel for the Alliance Defense Fund.
"... an adult-driven agenda" It makes it sound so insidious.

Of course, any responsible effort to design a curriculum for school students is always going to be "adult-driven," isn't it? Does Johnson want 12- and 13-year-olds to decide what they're going to be taught? And any group or person who makes a suggestion for changing curriculum or other school policies has, by definition, an "agenda." On the other hand, the "indoctrinate" part is sensationalist nonsense. Yet, even without that word, you have to admit that "adult-driven agenda" has a certain inflammatory effect -- whether it should or not.

So, just to sum things up, it's quite true that the effort to let young people know there's such a thing as homosexuality -- oh, my god, you'll traumatize them all for life! -- is an "adult-driven agenda." Likewise, the push in some states to teach creationism (a.k.a., "intelligent design") is also an "adult-driven agenda."

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