COMMENTARY: Anti-LGBTQ agenda is a ‘nefarious’ one

Wow, a second letter from someone associated with the Family Research Council, complete with a tabloid-worth, race-baiting Fox News headline and quote — and its their president, Tony Perkins, no less. (“Delaware, beware of kids choosing their own race”, Nov. 17)

For those unfamiliar with the Family Research Council, they are a division of Focus on The Family an ultra-conservative Christian group and lobbying organization. The Family Research Council and Focus on the Family promote what they call traditional Christian family values and social conservatism. They oppose and lobby against equal rights for LGBTQ such as same-sex marriage/civil unions and same-sex adoptions, and have been designated, along with Focus on the Family, as a LGBTQ hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

The Family Research Council also promotes and lobbies for religious freedom legislation, prayer in public schools, creationism, and are staunchly anti-abortion. They have also lobbied for a federal “conscience clause,” which would allow medical professionals to refuse to provide certain treatments to their patients, such as abortion, blood transfusion or birth control. They also promote traditional gender roles in families, i.e. father is the head of the household and bread winner, while women are homemakers and childcare givers and should submit to their husbands in matters regarding the household.

Focus on the Family and the Family Research Council have also supported the practice of “conversion therapy” — that being LGBTQ is a choice and can be “cured.” The American Psychological Association has condemned the practice as psychological, and in some cases physical, abuse which can actually cause more harm to someone who may already be struggling to be accepted by their family and friends.

Vice President Mike Pence has in the past been a proponent of conversion therapy, even calling for federal funding for institutions that practiced it while he was running for governor of Indiana in 2000. To be fair, he has since renounced it.

Tony Perkins himself was just implicated in coverup of an assault by a conservative, and supposedly anti-LGBTQ, GOP lawmaker in Ohio on a teenage boy in a hotel room two years ago and also with the son of one of Perkins’/Family Research Council supporters. In discovered letters, Perkins admits to knowing about the assaults, and promised the father that he would handle it personally, but then kept quiet so that the man could be elected. The state lawmaker in question resigned his seat last week after he was discovered having sex with another man in his office.

Mr. Perkins references the American College of Pediatrics which, it might surprise you to learn, has also been labeled as a LGBTQ hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center for their views on same-sex parenting and adoption, and that homosexuality and gender dysphoria are not real and caused by hormonal changes in a child’s body that will disappear as children grow into adulthood (a charge that has no medical basis whatsoever).

The American College of Pediatrics is also aligned with the National Association for Research & Therapy of Homosexuality, another organization deemed a LGBTQ hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center for promoting misinformation and falsehoods about LGBTQ people, including trying to link homosexuality to pedophilia. NARTH also promotes the use of conversion therapy.

Like the earlier letter from Nicole Theis, president of the Delaware Family Policy County, (“Education regulation disregards and bypasses parents,” Nov. 10) Mr. Perkins has tried to use the most shocking and hysterical claims of someone with a heinous scheme just waiting to take advantage of the Delaware DOE “Regulation 225 Prohibition of Discrimination” to claim they are … *gasp* black (as the headline states) or transgender. Sorry, but just can’t believe that some high school guy is out there plotting to convince the staff at his school that he is transgender just so he can go inside the girls’ locker room (as Ms. Theis tried to insinuate).

I don’t know about her, but when I was in high school, you could usually find some guy willing to do it just on a dare, or an illicit six-pack of beer. Ms. Theis also seems to be concerned with having transgender students in sports, and that it will somehow diminish traditional girls’ sports. How is having a transgender field hockey player any different than a straight girl playing on the football team or being on the wrestling team?

The football and/or wrestling team would have to make allowances for the girl to change in a separate locker room and stay in a separate room if there was overnight travel. While it is not a common example, it is very real and has happened.

LGBTQ students are already vulnerable, and like kids suffering from physical or emotional abuse, school is sometimes the only refuge that they have — particularly if they don’t have support and understanding at home. Sometimes having that one teacher or counselor to confide in can make the world of difference in the life of someone who doesn’t feel like they are worthy or accepted.

A 2014 study by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, in conjunction with the Williams Institute, on transgender discrimination nationwide found that 57 percent of respondents who experienced rejection by family and friends, discrimination, victimization or violence had elevated prevalence of suicide attempts. The rate was 50-54 percent for those who were harassed or bullied at school.

In an ideal world, parents shouldn’t be left out of important issues in their children’s lives, but if that inclusion only worsens an already strained relationship, or has the potential to lead to something as dire as suicide, then it helps no one.

Schools are places of learning, but they can also be places of comfort for some students who lack nurturing and accepting relationships with their parents and families. Being a teen is already hard, having to conform to what is considered the “norm,” and facing the possibility of being bullied or ostracized if you aren’t part of the collective.

For LGBTQ students, it is even harder — particularly if your parents are not supportive, or in the worst case scenario, abusive. “Regulation 225 Prohibition of Discrimination” is not much that different from similar regulations regarding students who are being physically or sexually abused.

While this is a long-winded letter, I wanted to show that people like Tony Perkins and Nicole Theis, and their organizations, also have their own agenda — one that, personally, I find to be every bit as nefarious as the sensationalized, tabloid-inspired stories their letters were trying to sell.

Michele Lapinski

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