The Christian organization Focus on the Family is partnering with a religious freedom legal team to make sure public school policies on bullying include protection for all students and do not only address those who are favored by activist groups advancing a homosexual agenda.
Alliance Defending Freedom announced this week that they have developed an Anti-Bullying Policy Yardstick that allows schools and the general public in the U.S. to evaluate several legal aspects of a school's proposed or existing policies.
"All students deserve to be protected from bullying, not just ones favored by certain political activist groups. And all schools need help to ensure that their policies comport with their students' First Amendment freedoms and other legal protections. This tool is designed to provide that help," said Alliance Defending Freedom Legal Counsel Jeremy Tedesco.
"Unfortunately, activist groups that promote homosexual behavior often dupe schools into adopting policies that protect students based on their 'sexual orientation' or 'gender identity,' which can unconstitutionally silence students who want to express their biblically-based views on sexuality," Tedesco explained. "This new Anti-Bullying Policy Yardstick helps schools identify which policies are driven by a narrow political agenda and which ones protect First Amendment freedoms."
The Yardstick is a tool that can help public school officials evaluate proposed and existing anti-bullying policies and laws, outlining the good and bad approaches to the top 10 most common components of these policies, said ADF. "Among other things, the Yardstick will help those officials detect strictly pro-homosexual programs propagated in the name of 'safe schools' or 'anti-bullying.'"
Alliance Defending Freedom's cover letter explains that "homosexual behavior advocates are demanding that protections for 'sexual orientation' and 'gender identity' be inserted into existing anti-bullying policies so that inappropriate, sexually-based materials can be promulgated to our children." As a result, "schools are being transformed from places of safety and learning to places of unprecedented sexual education."
In fact, Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys stress that schools do not need to adopt "anti-bullying" policies to prevent bullying because school officials already possess authority to prohibit that type of behavior under existing policies.
However, according to the Yardstick, a good anti-bullying policy, if a school or school district chooses to have one, "provides a precise definition of 'bullying' that regulates bullying conduct" and "focuses on the acts or words said by the alleged bully rather than the intent or motives behind the actions."
Focus on the Family has implemented a "True Tolerance" project that includes a website with resources to help parents.
The family group states that they believe "the best and most effective policies are those that 1) protect children by strongly prohibiting bullying of any kind against any child for any reason, 2) respect local control, allowing school officials and parents to develop solutions that best meet their particular school's needs and 3) do not unnecessarily politicize or sexualize the issue in a way that undermines parental rights and students' religious freedoms."
The family advocacy group also says that national homosexual advocacy groups like GLSEN –the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network – have sent letters to public school districts nationwide, pressuring them to promote activists' messages about sexuality, while at the same time encouraging them to censor messages that differ from this viewpoint. "Obviously this one-sided approach is not reflective of true tolerance or academic freedom," FOTF said.
For more information about the Yardstick, visit TrueTolerance.org.