WorldNetDaily advanced false claims by anti-gay "critics" that a proposed bill would grant Obama administration official and longtime right-wing target Kevin Jennings "almost unlimited authority to mandate indoctrination in public schools." In fact, the bill -- intended to reduce discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity in public schools -- does not mention Jennings, provide any official with "almost unlimited authority," or "mandate indoctrination."
WND frames article around anti-gay activist's baseless claims about "fascist" bill
In a February 10 WND article headlined "Obama czar's 'homo-genda' proposed for U.S. schools," news editor Bob Unruh reported:
A homosexual congressman from Colorado has proposed a law critics say would give controversial federal school safety czar Kevin Jennings - a longtime homosexual-rights advocate - almost unlimited authority to mandate indoctrination in public schools at taxpayer expense.
"It doesn't get much more fascist than this! It's a sexual revolutionary's dream," wrote Linda Harvey of Mission America.
Under the legislation by Democrat Rep. Jared Polis, Jennings "can create pro-homosexual programs and policies to their hearts' delight," Harvey wrote.
Jennings founded the "Gay, Lesbian Straight Education Network" and now heads the office of "Safe and Drug Free Schools" at the Department of Education.
Polis' proposal would provide special protections for students who claim they are discriminated against because of their "perceived sexual orientation." The bill would call down the wrath of the federal government on offenders by classifying "actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity" alongside race, color, sex, disability or national origin as factors on which protections are based.
"While I have no hard evidence, it's got Kevin Jennings' fingerprints all over it," Harvey said. "His safe and drug free schools plan can take full advantage by creating new rules schools would have to follow."
Despite appearing in quotes in the headline, Unruh quotes no one using the term "homo-genda," and the term appears nowhere else in the article.
Bill does not give Jennings "almost unlimited authority to mandate indoctrination in public school"
Jennings not referenced in bill. The bill at issue, the Student Nondiscrimination Act of 2010, does not specifically reference Jennings, his position, Assistant Deputy Secretary for Safe and Drug-Free Schools, or his office, the Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools.
Bill does not "mandate indoctrination." The bill does not "mandate indoctrination" in public schools, but rather bans discrimination based on "actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity" in public schools, and defines "harassment" on those bases as discrimination:
(a) In General -- No student shall, on the basis of actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity of such individual or of a person with whom the student associates or has associated, be excluded from participation in, or be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.
(b) Harassment -- For purposes of this Act, discrimination includes, but is not limited to, harassment of a student on the basis of actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity of such student or of a person with whom the student associates or has associated.
Bill does not grant anyone "almost unlimited authority." The bill directs federal departments that provide funding to public schools to promulgate rules allowing for the termination of that funding if that school fails to take action to prevent discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. Those rules are subject to approval by the president. From the bill:
SEC. 5. FEDERAL ADMINISTRATIVE ENFORCEMENT; REPORT TO CONGRESSIONAL COMMITTEES.
Each Federal department and agency which is empowered to extend Federal financial assistance to any education program or activity, by way of grant, loan, or contract other than a contract of insurance or guaranty, is authorized and directed to effectuate the provisions of section 4 of this Act with respect to such program or activity by issuing rules, regulations, or orders of general applicability which shall be consistent with achievement of the objectives of the Act authorizing the financial assistance in connection with which the action is taken. No such rule, regulation, or order shall become effective unless and until approved by the President. Compliance with any requirement adopted pursuant to this section may be effected --
(1) by the termination of or refusal to grant or to continue assistance under such program or activity to any recipient as to whom there has been an express finding on the record, after opportunity for hearing, of a failure to comply with such requirement, but such termination or refusal shall be limited to the particular political entity, or part thereof, or other recipient as to whom such a finding has been made, and shall be limited in its effect to the particular program, or part thereof, in which such noncompliance has been so found, or
(2) by any other means authorized by law,
except that no such action shall be taken until the department or agency concerned has advised the appropriate person or persons of the failure to comply with the requirement and has determined that compliance cannot be secured by voluntary means. In the case of any action terminating, or refusing to grant or continue, assistance because of failure to comply with a requirement imposed pursuant to this section, the head of the Federal department or agency shall file with the committees of the House and Senate having legislative jurisdiction over the program or activity involved a full written report of the circumstances and the grounds for such action. No such action shall become effective until 30 days have elapsed after the filing of such report.
Bill has a Republican co-sponsor. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) is listed as an original co-sponsor of the bill.
WND's only source for charges is virulently anti-gay
The sole "critic" of the bill referenced by WND is Linda Harvey of Mission: America, who says the bill is "a sexual revolutionary's dream" and is quoted extensively to rebut statements made by the bill and its sponsor.
In WND article, Harvey referred to the "phony concept of 'gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered' identity." In the February 10 WND article, Harvey is quoted as saying:
"The phony concept of 'gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered' identity is the shaky foundation of this bill. Are certain kids different types of humans? No. There is no science to back up the existence of a 'gay gene' or anything like it, and it is very harmful to label and stereotype young people with questionable lifestyles and high-risk behaviors," Harvey warned.
She continued, "There is no constitutional right to homosexual behavior or cross-dressing as stated in this bill. Some see a 'right to privacy' in the Constitution, which is not one of its amendments. But even that wouldn't cover what's being proposed. This bill is an attempt at installing a very public declaration and public affirmation of verifiably high risk practices and, if engaged in at all, private matters."
Harvey also reportedly rebutted the statement that GLBT students are "subjected to pervasive discrimination" and, thus, are denied "equal protection" under the 14th Amendment by claiming: "All students have equal protection now, just not for highly questionable behavior. Would students who are obese have the right to proclaim this a 'right' under 'equal protection' so that any school nutrition programs would then become 'discrimination'? These are behaviors, not simply viewpoints."
Harvey: "Get all pro-homosexual and pro-promiscuity programs, literature, teachers, and counselors out of every school now." In an article posted to Harvey's Mission: America website, under the headline "The Top Ten Ways to Make Kids Truly Safe in 2010," Harvey wrote:
Get all pro-homosexual and pro-promiscuity programs, literature, teachers, and counselors out of every school now. Remove "gay" clubs, Planned Parenthood at health fairs, and GLSEN- PFLAG- SIECUS activists. Cease all condom demonstrations, abortion referrals, on-site birth control dispensing, sexual orientation affirmation, and messing with children's hearts, minds and bodies. Demand that schools uphold the traditional value of heterosexual identities, teach abstinence- until- marriage, and celebrate male/ female gender differences.
Harvey has written that "[n]o self-respecting Christian" would take the position that there are "'rights' that need to be accorded to the behavior of homosexuality." In a November 6, 2009, WND column responding to the repeal of Maine's same-sex marriage law, Harvey wrote:
Pro-family forces prevailed on Nov. 3 in the state of Maine to preserve traditional marriage - for nw - and praise God for that. Yet the Stand for Marriage Maine campaign ceded some precious ground in the process and threw long-time family activists under the bus instead of working with them as they could have.
This is a huge concession to the hopes and aspirations of "gay" activists. Are there indeed "rights" that need to be accorded to the behavior of homosexuality? No self-respecting Christian would take this position. This paves the way for the pseudo-marriage of "domestic partnerships." The big question is: Why did "conservatives" do this?
Harvey: "[W]e need to caution our kids against friendships with people practicing homosexual behavior." In a September 26, 2006, article posted at LifeSiteNews.com, Harvey detailed a "Seven-Point Plan to Protect Christian Youth Against Homosexuality." Harvey wrote:
Homosexuality is secretly destroying the Christian faith of millions of teens, whether they are involved in the behavior or not, and adult Christians seem to be oblivious. Our silence spells the final spiritual death sentence for many of them.
Repeat, and repeat again, and repeat again, that there is no evidence in Scripture or in science that homosexuality is inborn. This is not an inevitable condition for certain unlucky people, but is a developmental desire that may feel "natural" to some but ultimately is changeable.
Finally, we need to caution our kids against friendships with people practicing homosexual behavior, and with those who condone it, particularly those who call themselves Christians. Acquaintances are fine, but this is too explosive an issue on a same sex basis, and too great a spiritual test, for young people to be immersed in. It's a serious mistake to believe they are mature enough to be thrust into situations which the enemy will use to confuse them. And the Bible cautions even adults of such friendships.