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|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.
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.
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."
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.
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."
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.' "