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Back to Sept. Ed Reporter
Education Reporter
NUMBER 176 THE NEWSPAPER OF EDUCATION RIGHTS SEPTEMBER 2000

Gay 'Teach-Out' Fallout Tramples Constitution
BOSTON, MA - When Scott Whiteman of the Parents Rights Coalition (PRC) tape-recorded a statewide homosexual "Teach-Out" at Tufts University last March (see Education Reporter, July 2000), he couldn't have foreseen that a court-ordered blackout would suppress the tape's shocking contents. Details of the conference provoked public outrage in May when the Massachusetts News published a transcript of Whiteman's tapes. The July issue reported that, as the scandal emerged, "homosexual activists" approached state Superior Court Judge Allan van Gestel "in secret" and asked him to issue "an emergency order stopping anyone from talking about the conference or distributing a tape recording of what had happened." Invoking a state wiretap law, the judge prohibited the PRC, the news media, and the even the state legislature from disseminating or discussing the tapes.


Parents Persecuted  
The PRC had initially tried to report on the conference to the education establishment, offering the tape recordings as proof, but was unable to generate any interest. PRC members attempted to give testimony at a Board of Education meeting in Pittsfield, but the board's response was to pass a directive forcing schools to accept Gay/Straight Alliances (GSAs) if the state determines they should have them. (GSAs are after-school clubs for gay, lesbian and straight youth that supposedly promote "safe schools" - see Education Reporter, April 2000.)

Frustrated, the PRC began circulating copies of Whiteman's tapes. Talk radio host Jeanine Graf was so appalled by the revelations that she devoted a whole week of programming to the issue. The story soon spread to the Internet.

Whiteman and PRC founder Brian Camenker were labeled "slanderers." The Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) filed suit against them on behalf of students who attended the taped workshops, even though the students' voices were digitally altered before any tapes were distributed.


Gag Order Condemned 
Boston attorney Chester Darling, representing Whiteman and Camenker, described Judge van Gestel's order as "trampling on the Constitution." Darling gained fame in the well-publicized legal battle of Irish war veterans to prevent a gay rights group from marching under their banner in a St. Patrick's Day parade. The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the veterans' rights in a 9-0 decision. The wiretap law, Darling explained, was enacted primarily to allow police to tape the conversations of organized crime figures and was not intended to prevent citizens from taping public meetings with pocket tape recorders.

The gag order attracted national attention, mostly negative. Liberal stalwarts such as Harvard law professor and gay-rights supporter Alan Dershowitz and Boston civil liberties lawyer Harvey Silverglate condemned it. Local citizen-activist Lawrence Andrade, representing the Massachusetts chapter of Exodus 2000 - an organization that urges parents to withdraw their children from public schools - wrote in a published letter to the editor: "The tapes of the Tufts conference belong to the people of Massachusetts. Since when do 'secret meetings' have any place in the public school system? This [order] is a greater outrage than the depravity itself."

Major media outlets were strangely silent on the matter, though the Boston Globe reportedly published an editorial asking the judge if he "had read the Constitution."


'Teach-Out' Instructors Fired 
After the scandal broke, Massachusetts Education Department chief David Driscoll apologized for the conference and fired two of the workshop leaders, Margot Abels and Julie Netherland. A third instructor, health department employee Michael Gaucher, lost his contract with the education department. According to The Weekly Standard (July 3-10, 2000), Abels "fumed to the press that the education department had known perfectly well what she had been doing for years and hadn't cared until the tapes surfaced."

That is precisely what Brian Camenker and his group have been claiming all along. According to the Standard, "PRC has been complaining to Massachusetts officials that radical homosexuals are introducing grossly objectionable material to children and seeking to undermine parental authority over the moral instruction of their kids."

Less than a week after issuing his injunction, Judge van Gestel held a hearing to reconsider the order. Attorneys for the fired education department employees argued that "harm or injury to all the youth on the tape" could result from its distribution. Lawyers for the Fox News Network were the only media representatives to show up demanding freedom of the press. Their request that the judge "limit the injunction to the named individuals" was subsequently granted.

The PRC remains barred from circulating the tapes. There has been no ruling on whether Whiteman actually violated the Massachusetts wiretap law.


State-Sanctioned Event  
The "Teach-Out" at Tufts University was sponsored by the Massachusetts Department of Education, the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), and the Governor's Commission on Gay and Lesbian Youth. Conference goals were to build "more GSAs" in the state's public schools, and "expand homosexual teaching into the lower grades." Children as young as 12 participated, along with teachers, administrators and homosexual activists from across the country.

One well-attended workshop recorded by Whiteman was entitled "What They Didn't Tell You About Queer Sex and Sexuality in Health Class: A Workshop for Youth Only, Ages 14-21." Graphic descriptions of homosexual sex acts were discussed, and teens were urged to consult their "really hip" Gay/Straight Alliance advisors for advice on how to "come on" to potential sex partners. Another popular workshop called "Putting the Sex Back Into Sexual Orientation: Classroom Strategies for Health & Sexuality Educators" was designed to teach teachers how to facilitate discussions about "queer sex" with their students. The session posed such questions as: "What does it mean to say 'being gay, lesbian and bisexual isn't about sex'?" "How can we deny that sexuality is central for all of us?"

According to Massachusetts News, those on both sides of the scandal say the conference could not have happened without the knowledge of high officials. Camenker claims the responsibility begins in Governor Paul Cellucci's office, and adds that he has "tried for years" to talk to the Governor about parents' concerns but "has always been rebuffed."


Senate Approves Funding 
Despite the public controversy, the Massachusetts Senate voted to continue funding homosexual programs in the state's public schools. These programs are presented as "gay and lesbian teen suicide prevention" programs, and Camenker points out that the Tufts conference was paid for with "so-called 'suicide prevention' money." He told The Weekly Standard: "That money goes down a rathole to fund gay clubs in schools, and gay rallies and conferences."

The Standard noted that the battle in Massachusetts is likely to spread to school districts across the country as "the powerful GLSEN organization, with sponsorship money from American Airlines, Dockers, and Kodak, presses its radical agenda under the innocent-sounding labels of 'safety,' 'human rights,' and 'suicide prevention.' "


 
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