To hear some on the political right talk about it, "homosexual indoctrination" is already a problem in public schools — and it's about to get much, much worse.
"I guarantee you [your kids] are getting homosexual indoctrination," social conservative "historian" David Barton said in January. "I don't care whether you're in a rural area or not, because this is so much a part of textbooks, so much a part of curricular stuff, so much a part of what goes on with other kids."
In the past few weeks, the right has upped its game campaigning against what Barton sees as a pervasive problem. Some of the momentum hinged on April 15th's "Day Of Silence," a yearly campaign by youth LGBT students to raise awareness about bullying by taking a vow of silence for the day. One group behind it, the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), called it a way "to bring attention to anti-LGBT name-calling, bullying and harassment in their schools."
But some conservative groups see something more nefarious afoot, and proposed a "Day Of Silence Walkout" in response, encouraging parents to keep their kids home from school on the same day. One of these groups is Save California, headed by Randy Thomasson. Save California says it's a "frontline pro-family organization standing strong for moral virtues for the common good," that aims, among other things, "to challenge liberal forces wherever they attack moral virtue."
Thomasson told TPM that the Day Of Silence is "another day of brainwashing for children. To have an entire academic day to be hijacked and disrupted is just a wasted school day."
"They should be taken into detention. They shouldn't be allowed to make a school day a day of sexual political activism," Thomasson said.
He's not alone in his view. The American Family Association recently implored its members to "de-politicize the learning environment by calling your child out of school if your child's school allows students to remain silent during instructional time on the Day of Silence." The Liberty Counsel worked to raise awareness about "the intolerance promoted by the Day of Silence."
This fear has been compounded by a bill making its way through the California legislature that would require public schools to add lessons in gay history to their curriculum. SB 48 would require schools to include instruction on the contributions of "Native Americans, African Americans, Mexican Americans, Asian Americans, Pacific Islanders, European Americans, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Americans, persons with disabilities, and other ethnic and cultural groups." This would include general instruction and the content of textbooks, and would also prohibit both from containing any material that "reflects adversely upon persons because of their race, sex, color, creed, handicap, national origin, or ancestry."
Thomasson, of Save California, told TPM that the bill "would mandate new role models — homosexual, bisexual, transsexual role models," and that "kids as young as kindergarten would have to admire" them. Specifically, he speculated that the textbooks would teach about Elton John and his husband, or might ask: "Did you know President Abraham Lincoln was gay? How do we know that? He slept in a bed with a man when he was younger." He added: "Abraham Lincoln was not homosexual. He was a Christian man who loved his family."
"This is the kind of garbage that will be taught to kids," Thomasson said, adding: "it's gonna be open season on indoctrination."
State Sen. Mark Leno (D-CA) defended the bill on MSNBC last week, saying that it is "no more about sexuality than when students are taught that a man named Dr. Martin Luther King, who fought for Civil Rights, was African American. That Cesar Chavez was Mexican American. Harvey Milk happened to be a gay American who was fighting for civil rights, and was killed in his City Hall office because of who he was."
"This is not teaching sexuality," Leno continued, "this is teaching history and what the fight for Civil Rights equality, fighting for the great promise of our Constitution, that all men and women are created equal and should be treated fairly and equally under the law."
The Daily Caller's Tucker Carlson called the bill "propaganda" on Fox & Friends on Tuesday. Co-host Brian Kilmeade asked: "Should public school teachers be ordered to tell their students why it's OK to be gay?"
"At any age, teaching propaganda is wrong," Carlson said. "No one is suggesting, and no one, as far as I know in the modern age, has ever suggested that people who are gay not be included in history. I mean, that's ludicrous." But, he said, this bill "would teach kids politically charged facts that are not the whole story. It would lie to kids, it would prevent schools from teaching things that somehow reflected poorly on a group that has political power."
Co-host Steve Doocy also took issue with the language that would prohibit schools from using materials that reflected negatively "on gays or any particular religions. That doesn't sound good," he said. Carlson replied: "Clearly, this is an effort to keep information that might be critical of Islam from reaching students. And again, that's propaganda."