Homosexual Group Concedes Teen Workshop Went Too Far

July 7, 2008 - 7:02 PM

(CNSNews.com) - A spokesman for the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), which received funds from the office of the Massachusetts Commissioner of Education, has admitted a school workshop sponsored in March for 30 students - some as young as 14 - crossed the line in terms of content.

Kevin Jennings, the group's executive director, said the state-funded workshop, conducted by two Department of Education AIDS/HIV education specialists and a taxpayer-funded consultant, went too far.

"Like the Parent's Rights Coalition and the Department of Education, GLSEN is also troubled by some of the content that came up during the workshop...we need to make our guidelines and expectations much more clear...because we are surprised and troubled by some of the accounts we've heard," Jennings said.

GLSEN has a state-funded contract to hold workshops for students, many of whom are homosexual, as well as educators, in an effort promote greater tolerance toward homosexual students. The workshops, part of the state's Safe Schools Program, have been conducted since 1993.

Education Commissioner David Driscoll, whose agency is reviewing tapes of the workshop, titled "What They Don't Tell You About Queer Sex and Sexuality in Health Class," as part of an investigation, characterized the March 25th session as "prurient."

The video taping was secretly done by a member of the Parents Rights Coalition of Massachusetts. A copy of the proceedings has made its way to a Boston area FM radio station that has aired segments of the workshop.

However, attorneys for one of the 30 students and one of the Department of Education staff members have since received a temporary injunction from a Suffolk County Superior Court judge barring the distribution of the tape and transcripts based on the recording. In Massachusetts, taping people without their permission violates state law.

"This was illegally taped...there were 30 students present who were relying on the assurance of confidentiality of the workshop proceedings to ask the questions they needed to ask," said Mary Bonauto, an attorney for the group Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders.

Meanwhile Brian Camenker, director of the Parents Rights Coalition, said the group plans to ask Republican Governor Paul Cellucci to fire Driscoll for failing to terminate the two education department employees.

"Basically he's saying this is going to be business as usual. I have a little girl who is going to start at a high school next year, and I'm shocked by all of this," Camenker said.