After Education Secretary Arne Duncan sent a letter declaring that Gay-Straight Alliances and similar groups are protected under the 1984 Equal Access Law, which was passed with the help of Religious Right activists, the Religious Right was unsurprisingly enraged. Many anti-gay organizations forcefully oppose the creation of such clubs, and the Family Research Council even urged schools to encourage clubs that support ex-gay therapy. Now, American Principles In Action (APIA) is denouncing Duncan’s letter as a threat to “the innocence” of children.
APIA is the political arm of the American Principles Project, an anti-gay group that is best known for launching the boycott of the Conservative Political Action Conference over the participation of GOProud and the alleged sidelining of the social conservatives. Even though APIA took on leading conservative groups with its CPAC boycott, recently presidential candidates Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, Gary Johnson and Rick Santorum signed up for their Iowa “Tea Party Bus Tour.”
In a statement, the APIA charged Secretary Duncan with bullying for supporting students who want to form clubs that actively fight school bullying and harassment. The group instead claimed that it was part of the Obama Administration’s “sexual agenda” and need to “pander to the gay lobby,” requesting the Supreme Court overrule the decision:
Today, American Principles in Action (APIA) criticized Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan for another attempt to bully local schools into accepting the Administration’s sexual agenda. On June 14, he sent a “Dear Colleague” letter notifying schools across the country that they are prohibited from denying the formation of “Queer-Straight” and “Gay-Straight” Alliance groups.
“This is a situation where local school boards have been making their own decisions about how to protect the students entrusted to their care,” said Andy Blom, Executive Director of APIA. “It is simply unacceptable for Sec. Duncan to push local school districts around and force them to accept their sexual agenda, especially when case law is so conflicted on the issue.”
In his letter, Secretary Duncan backed up his decision by citing a July 2008 decision made in Gonzalez vs. School Board of Okeechobee County where a Florida federal judge prohibited the local school board from preventing a Gay-Straight Alliance Group from forming under the Equal Protection Act.
“What we really need is for the Supreme Court to weigh in to protect the ability of local school districts to manage the innocence of their children without interference from federal courts,” said Blom. “Instead, Sec. Duncan has used yet another opportunity to pander to the gay lobby. It is time for the Supreme Court and Congress to step forward and reign in this overaggressive Department of Education.”