Concerned Women for America (CWA) has voiced its concern against a required "freshman advisory" class at Deerfield High School (DHS) in Deerfield, Ill., led by the Straight and Gay Alliance where homosexual upperclassmen share about their high school experiences with new students.
CWA, the nation's largest public policy women's organization, has said that the meeting, which allows speaking students to cite research and answer questions about homosexuality, endorses the homosexual agenda and features secretive discussions of sexual nature promoting high-risk homosexual behaviors.
"This goes to the heart of the homosexual agenda," said Matt Barber, Policy Director for Cultural Issues with CWA, in a statement. "If you can maintain control of undeveloped and impressionable youth and spoon-feed them misinformation, lies and half-truths about dangerous, disordered and extremely risky behaviors, then you can control the future and ensure that those behaviors are not only fully accepted, but celebrated."
The class is required for all students, but parents can pull their children from lessons that they feel are objectionable.
According to the CWA, students were also told to sign a confidentiality agreement promising that they would not tell anyone about what was discussed, including their parents. Later, the superintendent of the district, Dr. George Fornero, told the CWA that this was a mistake.
"It's not enough that students at Deerfield High are being exposed to improper and offensive material relative to unhealthy and high-risk homosexual behaviors, but they've essentially been told by teachers to lie to their parents about it," Barber added.
Several parents of DHS youth have also spoken up about the class, saying that it deals with complex issues of sexuality that should be discussed at home among parents rather than at school.
"The school makes heterosexuality and homosexuality equivalent," explained Lora Sue Hauser, a Deerfield parent who heads North Shore Student Advocacy, in the Chicago Tribune, "and our country is deeply divided on that."
Other individuals have disagreed with this assertion, however, noting that the class helps create a climate of acceptance, and that most parents would actually not be against the program.
"We have a great deal of pride in the program and don't feel we are overstepping any boundaries that [most] parents would feel are inappropriate," said Suzan Hebson, assistant superintendent for human resources for Township High School District 113, in the Tribune.
Some parents have argued that the panel is unfair, stating that there is no opposing voice on the panel. There needs to be neutral discussion of the issue.
"My goal is not to generate controversy," said DHS mother Laurie Higgins in the Tribune. "I don't think they should be treating [homosexuality] in the same way they treat conditions that are immutable and carry no behavioral implications, like race, sex, ethnicity and disability."
Students are divided on the issue, feeling picked on for having either stance.
Erin Kaplan, a 17-year-old transgender senior at DHS, has noted that the atmosphere of the school has improved since the panel discussions began five years ago. Before, there were many more demeaning and homophobic remarks going through the halls.
Some students voicing their opinions against the program have felt ostracized, however.
After local resident Ellen Waltz's daughter spoke out at the discussion four years ago, she was labeled as anti-gay. "My daughter was devastated when she came home," noted the mother in the Tribune. "She said, 'Everyone hates me.'"
Parents cannot attend the class, because, according to school officials, it will change the atmosphere of the discussion and lessen the learning experience. They can however receive a video of the panel if they should ask.
This year's panel included seven students, four who consider themselves as gay, bisexual, or transgender, and three that are heterosexual.
Barber concluded in his statement, "Until DHS and other government schools across the country are made to stop promoting the homosexual agenda, kids will continue to be exposed to – and encouraged to participate in – a lifestyle that places them at high risk for life-threatening disease, depression and spiritual despair."