The Southern Poverty Law Center is facing allegations that the group is promoting a book for elementary school students that normalizes sexual behavior among children, drawing criticism from conservative Christian groups.
Conservative news website Breitbart published a report last week about the SPLC's "Learning for Justice" project, which includes an "LGBTQ Library" with a list of recommended books and practices that are controversial.
Jeff Johnston, the culture and policy analyst for the Colorado Springs, Colorado-based Focus on the Family, denounced the guide as promoting "false ideologies and damaging behaviors for children of all ages."
"It promotes the false idea that there are not two sexes — male and female — but a variety of 'gender identities,'" said Johnston in a statement emailed to The Christian Post on Monday.
"It encourages schools to violate privacy and safety in restrooms, locker rooms and showers by allowing students who 'identify' as the opposite sex into those spaces. And it urges schools to use curriculums that are radical and sexualized. This is ideology masquerading as education."
Senior Fellow for Education Studies at the Christian conservative activist organization Family Research Council Meg Kilgannon also took issue with the guide, telling CP that the SPLC "has been in the business of sexualizing children in the name of 'diversity' for years."
Kilgannon directed CP to a 2019 paper by the FRC, updated last year, which documented examples of the SPLC's "Learning for Justice" program engaging in controversial practices.
"When sexual progressives want to teach children with 'no normative pressures around sex,' parents should know that kind of thinking can include the idea that age restrictions on sexual behavior adults and children is a 'normative pressure,'" she explained.
"SPLC isn't interested in preserving childhood innocence when they train teachers to implement Queer Theory in classrooms in California and around the country. School systems that rely on teacher training materials from SPLC should be aware of the dangerous political and sexual ideologies SPLC's 'free materials' include."
One of the recommended books in the guide, which received considerable attention from Breitbart, is Sex is a Funny Word by Cory Silverberg, which is aimed at younger readers.
"Less controversial than its title suggests, this comic book for kids includes children and families of all makeups, orientations and gender identities, providing an essential resource about bodies, gender and sexuality for young children that will help caregivers guide difficult conversations," claims the guide.
The comic book features an illustration of a girl having an orgasm, with its author being quoted as wanting "a world with no normative pressures around sex."
Elsewhere, the guide claimed that "children often know their gender as early as 2 or 3 years old" and that they "do not need to be pubescent or sexually active to 'truly know' their gender identity or sexual orientation."
CP reached out to the SPLC for a response to the book, but a response wasn't received by press time.
Under the category of "Classroom Culture," the guide encouraged teachers to wear nametags indicating their chosen pronouns and encouraged the conducting of "pronoun check-ins."
"Collective pronoun check-ins help students learn peers' pronouns without forcing nonbinary students to come out repeatedly," the guide continued.
"You may say, 'To make sure we're referring to each other accurately, let's go around so everyone can share their name and pronoun.' This process can help transgender and nonbinary students feel seen, not singled out."
Launched in 1991 and originally named "Teaching Tolerance," "Learning for Justice" describes itself as an educational resource project helping schools combat discrimination and celebrate diversity.
"Our free educational resources — articles, guides, lessons, films, webinars, frameworks and more — help foster shared learning and reflection for educators, young people, caregivers and all community members. Our engagement opportunities — conferences, workshops, and school and community partnerships — provide space where people can harness collective power and take action," its website states.
"Through this continual cycle of education and engagement, we hope that we can build and maintain meaningful relationships with communities and we can all move from learning for justice to creating it."
A far-left civil rights group, SPLC has garnered much controversy and backlash over its labeling of several conservative Christian organizations, including FRC, as "hate groups."
This became a major point of contention in 2012 when a gay rights activist inspired by the SPLC entered FRC's Washington, D.C. headquarters and attempted to kill the staff.
The SPLC apologized to ex-Muslim activist Maajid Nawaz in June 2018 and paid him $3.3 million in a settlement after wrongfully including him in a report on anti-Muslim activity.
In March 2019, the SPLC fired its founder, Morris Dees, in response to several allegations of sexual misconduct, as well as claims of racist behavior within the progressive group.