(CNSNews.com) – A homosexual advocacy group is getting taxpayer money to increase the percentage of schools that set up "safe spaces" for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) youth.
The Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN) will receive $285,000 annually for five years to partner with 20 targeted school districts across the country to help keep LBGT students safe and healthy.
The grant money is coming from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, through its Department of Adolescent and School Health (DASH).
“It is abundantly clear that LGBT youths' experience of bias and violence at school contributes to significant threats to their health, academic success and psychological well-being," GLSEN Executive Director Eliza Bayard said in a June 17 news release announcing receipt of the grant.
She praised CDC for “taking a critical step to ensure safe and healthy schools for LGBT youth and a stronger foundation for their future by supporting the creation of truly safe spaces where they can receive support from administrators, teachers or other school staff.”
Safe spaces, Bayard added, “are vital to these students' health, success in school and life prospects."
The program centers on GLSEN’s “Safe Space Kit,” which includes stickers identifying offices or places within the school building where students will find “an adult’s unwavering support” for their safety. Each kit contains ten “Safe Space” stickers.
The kit includes two posters and a 42-page “Guide to Being an Ally to LGBT Students.” Among other things, the guide offers specific strategies for supporting LGBT students, including how to educate students about anti-LGBT bias and teaching respect for all people.
The kit also explains how to “advocate for change inside the school.”
“GLSEN strives to ensure that every school in America is safe for all students, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression. We want a Safe Space Kit to be used in the more than 100,000 middle and high schools across America to provide all students a safe place to learn,” the news release said.
GLSEN has become increasingly influential in the U.S. public education system over the past 15 years, said Linda Harvey, the founder of Mission America, a Christian, pro-family group that monitors homosexual advocacy organizations such as GLSEN.
She said parents “need to be alerted to the fact that now we may have GLSEN coming into schools.”
Harvey noted that many Christian and conservative parents “have not bought in to the idea that homosexuality is intrinsic,” but the CDC has “legitimized this view” by offering
GLSEN a federal grant.
Social conservatives have attacked the Safe Space Kits for providing a list of sexually graphic books.
According to Focus on the Family, one of the books recommended for grades 7-12 titled Rainbow Boy includes a description of high school boys looking at male pornography.
Another book, What If Someone I Know is Gay, explains that “sometimes it does take a sexual and/or emotional experience for someone to understand and recognize what their true feelings are.”
Candi Cushman, an education analyst for CitizenLink.com, told CNSNews.com that the kit also encourages educators to “whenever possible, give examples of same-sex couples.”
Cushman said the federal grant for GLSEN threatens parental choice. “What’s disturbing about that is that it just seems that the federal government is now funding a homosexual activist group that, by engaging in these campaigns in public schools, conflicts with the deeply held values and beliefs of so many families.”
Cushman said it seems “undemocratic at its roots to now force those families to fund these groups with their taxpayer money.”
GLSEN says the CDC grant is the latest example of the federal government partnering with GLSEN to “improve school climate and culture.”
GLSEN say its work with the federal government dates back to a meeting with President Clinton in the late 1990s, and continued under President Bush as GLSEN contributed to the development and launch of the "Stop Bullying Now" campaign at the Department of Health and Human Services in 2004.
GLSEN says it has worked closely with a number of other agencies, including the Department of Justice and the Department of Education.
"We are proud to contribute to federal efforts to support safe, healthy and respectful learning environments for all students," Byard said. "This grant is an exciting new element of GLSEN's long-standing partnership with federal agencies in the common project of improving U.S. schools."