Jeff Buchanan, the vice president of the ‘ex-gay’ group Exodus International, argues that positive representations of gays and lesbians in the media and education are corrupting America’s youth. In a column in Charisma magazine, Buchanan lambasted an online petition calling for Bert and Ernie to get married. Anti-gay activists have pointed to the petition as proof of an attempt to “sexualize kids” even though PBS said that as puppets, Bert and Ernie cannot be married and don’t have sexual orientations. Buchanan laments that children are going to be “pawns in a cultural agenda” and have to meet children with same-sex parents:
The situation with Bert and Ernie is a prime example of an attempt to indoctrinate children and use them as pawns in a cultural agenda. Do we really believe that toddlers and 4-year-olds are struggling to make sense of a fictional relationship between two felt puppets? The innocence of a child should not be required to wrestle with the complexities involving same-sex orientation. Nor should a parent be forced to educate their child on these issues before that child is mature enough to understand and cope with those complexities.
Unfortunately, the current culture is going to force parents and church leaders to address the issues surrounding homosexuality and same-sex marriage with younger and younger kids. When Tommy comes home from preschool and asks, “Why does my friend Jennifer have two daddies?” we must be ready to provide sound answers grounded in compassion and truth. Theirs will be a generation that must face an assault upon their innocence unlike any generation before.
Buchanan uses the trite argument of right-wing activists that advocates of LGBT equality want to “indoctrinate children” and expose them prematurely to issues involving sexuality. While previous generations of children were instructed in ideas of racism, sexism and nativism (just to name a few), apparently those concepts are far less harmful than positive images of gays and lesbians.
But if Exodus International doesn’t believe that children should even ponder issues of sexual orientation then why does the group’s website have an entire section dedicated to promoting youth-oriented literature? Exodus promotes their ‘ex-gay’ material to youth groups and middle school students, and was even involved in the “Day of Truth” (since renamed the Day of Dialogue by Focus on the Family) to promote ‘ex-gay’ messages in schools.
Plus, who could forget “Alfie’s Home”? The illustrated children’s book by leading ‘ex-gay’ activist Richard Cohen who depicted a boy who thought he was gay after he was molested by his uncle, bullied at school, and had a distant relationship with his father…until he was successfully ‘cured’ through reparative therapy.
The Religious Right continues to have one set of rules for themselves, and another set of rules for the groups they seek to marginalize.