Christian group lists RVA LGBTQ youth support group as bigots in nation-wide map
National Christian organization the American Family Association has released a “bigotry map” of “groups and organizations who the group claims “openly display bigotry toward the Christian faith,” and a local chapter of a youth LGBTQ support group GLSEN has made the list.
GLSEN, which stands for Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education, is a national volunteer-based organization designed to help troubled LGBT youth. GLSEN seeks to end discrimination, bullying, and harassment of K-12 students based on real/perceived sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression through education and support.
The American Family Association (AFA) claims GLSEN, and other similar groups marked on their “bigotry map” are “…deeply intolerant towards the Christian religion. Their objectives are to silence Christians and to remove all public displays of Christian heritage and faith in America.”
AFA has a long history of taking anti-gay action whenever possible. In July, 2012 and AFA Action Alert said “homosexuality is a poor and dangerous choice, and has been proven to lead to a litany of health hazards to not only the individuals but also society as a whole.”
GLSEN currently has 40 chapters in 28 states and uses these chapters to support local schools by sponsoring Gay-Straight Alliances and the National Day of Silence among other pro-LGBT events.
According to GLSEN’s statistics on bullying 90% of LGBT students hear anti-LGBT comments within their school, at an average of 26 insults a day. 74% of LGBT students have been verbally assaulted because of their orientation or gender identity, and 25% of LGB students have been physically assaulted while 55% of trans students have also faced physical assault.
LGBT youth account for 30% of all suicides and are twice as likely to abuse alcohol and three times as likely to abuse marijuana. Strife within the family is also an issue facing LGBT youth with 34% facing physical violence from their family, and a reported 40% of homeless youth identifying as LGBT, though the percentage is likely higher than that.
While the AFA didn’t return phone calls from GayRVA about why the group made the cut, GLSEN’s Richmond chapter was at odds with the group over a proposed bill, which would have allowed students to express religious beliefs in schools.
According to the language of the bill, it would have “declare each such school event to be a limited public forum, provide a neutral method for the selection of student speakers, and require each school principal to provide a disclaimer in advance of each such school event that the school division does not endorse any religious viewpoint that may be expressed by student speakers.”
GLSEN Richmond claimed that while they support religious expression, the wording of the bill was deceptive and it was intended not only to allow for religious expression in school but also to act as a deterrent to pro-LGBT issues.
“The bill would… disrupt campaigns, activities, and programs such as the Annual Day of Silence. The public school system should not be in the business of promoting speech that violates the First Amendment, nor should they seek policies that would coerce students to participate in particular beliefs,” said Richmond GLSEN in an alert they sent out to Virginia voters.
The bill was also condemned by Virginia’s only openly gay Senator Adam Ebbin, who had seen a similar bill pass in the Virginia Senate.
“This bill purports to promote religious freedom for all, but rather would give the religious majority the opportunity to promote its own sectarian religious beliefs to the exclusion of others – intended or not,” said Senator Ebbin . “Prayers are unlikely to be from anything but the majority religion. It’s about who is called on to speak, who is not called on to speak … and who is forced to listen.”
The bill eventually was left in the Courts of Justice House committee, effectively killing it.
Tyler Hammel is a college student who has an unhealthy obsession with comic books. He’s a proud cinephile, owning a sizable film collection that lets you know he doesn't have any friends. An aspiring filmmaker, Tyler currently works with the VCU student organization The Horn RVA, a group of like-minded video journalists with a passion for Richmond based music. When not crafting his own bio Tyler can be found misusing commas,
Hello everyone, We in PFLAG Richmond want to wish all of you a happy and healthy New Year. For our next meeting, we are honored to welcome Trish Boland, Co-Chair of the Richmond Chapter of the Gay, Lesbian, & Straight Education Network (GLSEN). GLSEN’s mission is to ensure that every student in every school is [...]January 4, 2016
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