Conservatives Blast White House Screening of 'Family Diversity' Film

July 7, 2008 - 8:02 PM

(CNSNews.com) - A 35-minute film, hailed by comedian Robin Williams as "extraordinary" -- one "that teaches a poignant lesson about love and family" - is being criticized by conservative groups, who see it as an effort to feed "gay propaganda of a one-sided variety" to schoolchildren.

The Clinton White House endorsed the film Tuesday by hosting a screening for it.

The film's director, Debra Chasnoff, is well-known for a 1984 film, "Choosing Children," which focused on the efforts of lesbians to become parents. She also was involved in the 1996 award-winning film called "It's Elementary: Talking About Gay Issues in School."

Chasnoff's latest effort is "That's a Family!", which features children between the ages of eight and 13 describing what their nontraditional families are like. Some of the children are from divorced parents, others have been adopted, and several are the children of homosexual couples.

"My Moms, Angie and Lee, are lesbians," says one young girl in the film. "That means they only like men for friends and they want to be in a relationship with other women."

Another girl stares into the camera and says, "My Dads are gay and gay means when two men or two women love each other. It's sort of just like having a Mom and Dad who love each other. It's just that it's a man and a man or a woman and a woman."

"That's a Family!" has not appeared on national television yet, although Chasnoff says that may happen in the future. It has been shown at film festivals, but Chasnoff's main goal is to distribute the film to "grassroots educational networks".

"We want to make sure that as many children see this film as possible and hopefully see it in a context where an adult who is teaching them or caring for them can facilitate a meaningful conversation afterwards," she said.

"There is an enormous amount of education that needs to be done with kids so that they come to understand that gay is not a bad word but is actually an adjective that describes how real people live and how real people in their school communities live," Chasnoff said.

Peter LaBarbera, senior analyst with the Family Research Council, blasted the White House effort to promote "That's a Family!" He called the film, "very insidious, in that it inserts homosexual-led families into these other types of families."

"This is the last gasp ... of trying to squeeze in every last bit of gay activism that they can in this administration because certainly, the homosexual activists know the fun times are about to end for them," LaBarbera said. "Even if George W. Bush doesn't do everything we'd like, he's not going to push homosexual activism like Clinton did.

"I think what I'm most afraid of is that these are impressionable kids and that they're being fed gay propaganda of a one-sided variety ... in the classroom, which is the authority where they are led to believe that everything they are taught is true," LaBarbera said.

While acknowledging the existence of homosexual-led families, LaBarbera added, "I think that most people would recognize that there is a difference, and I think one of the key differences is that the homosexual-led families are intentionally putting children in mother-less or father-less homes."

Charlene Haar, president of the Education Policy Institute, also criticizes the new film. "There certainly are all kinds of families, but not ones that we need to celebrate, nor do we need to suggest that young people emulate them," she said.

"I think it's an indication of the power and influence of the special interest groups that have had this extraordinary influence over the Clinton-Gore Administration, and this is just another example of that," Haar said.

The Education Policy Institute, which supports school choice, is sharply at odds with the national teacher unions and the national Parent Teacher Association, whose president, Ginny Markell, was one of the speakers at Tuesday's White House ceremony.

"They're (PTA) concerned about flagging membership and I certainly don't think that once parents get word of this, that it's going to improve their chances for increasing their membership," Haar said.

"With all of the problems that we have in education these days, certainly this is a diversion, I think, away from the real issues - and that is - we need to do a better job of working on student achievement," Haar said. "And students who are taught the basics, whose teachers are responsible and attentive and parents who are engaged in the process is a far more critical issue ... than this issue, of whether or not to celebrate homosexuality."

Victoria Duran, program director for the national PTA, refused to comment about the Chasnoff film but said her group "is opposed to all discrimination on the basis of race, gender, national origin, language, religion, age, disability or sexual orientation.

"We will work to ensure the tolerance and respect for differences is provided to all children and to all families," Duran said.

First Lady and New York Senator-elect Hillary Clinton was invited to Tuesday's screening at the White House, but did not attend. Three White House aides did attend.