This was one of the remarks an adult made to an Emmaus student at Monday’s school board meeting. The man was there as part of an organized effort by the Lehigh Valley Tea Party and the American Family Association.

In their public speeches, the people that came accused our schools of “coerced exposure” to “the homosexual and transgender lifestyles” and “thought control” of students that amounts to indoctrination against the “straight orientation” and “social bullying at the highest level.” They tied these accusations to a variety of issues, from parental rights to the Second Amendment to the lack of special awareness weeks for heterosexuals and Christians.

Who’s behind these claims? First is the Lehigh Valley Tea Party, which urged “every freedom loving American” to support Carol Allen and Barbara Tantaros in their efforts to protect our kids from the “government tyranny” of the East Penn School District. (Carol Allen is a sitting school board member; Barbara Tantaros is a community member who frequently addresses the board.)

Second is the American Family Association (AFA), a national hate group based in Mississippi best known for the argument that homosexuality was responsible for the rise of Nazis and the Holocaust during WWII. Bryan Fischer, an AFA staff member and daily radio show host, has argued that African-Americans “rut like rabbits,” that Hispanics are “socialist by nature,” that the right of free exercise of religion in the U.S. applies only to Christians, and that “we need an underground railroad to protect innocent children from same-sex households.” The president of the Pennsylvania chapter of the AFA, Diane Gramley, came from the Pittsburgh area to address the East Penn board Monday night.

Everyone is entitled to their own beliefs. And I will defend anyone’s right to express those beliefs, no matter how different they may be from my own. But people are not entitled to belittle or humiliate or attack others– particularly children– simply for who they are. Our schools do teach that we should treat all people with basic respect regardless of gender, race, sexual orientation, or gender identity. This isn’t thought control. This isn’t bullying. This isn’t conservative or liberal.  It’s basic human decency.

Is this who we are as a community?

 

Note: I’ve written a follow-up post about this same meeting, “The Bait…and Switch

6 thoughts to ““Too much for you, faggot?”

  • Joseph

    Man. That’s a tough crowd showing up at your school board meetings. Unfortunately, you’re mistaken about basic human decency as apolitical. Just look at the rhetoric of the now well accepted leader of the Republican party. Insisting that everyone be treated with respect and afforded a basic level of dignity makes you a liberal ( or in rare cases a GOP congressman whose decided to not run for re-election).

    Reply
  • Dave

    True, Joseph!
    Tolerance requires intolerance of intolerance. Respect for diverse views does not oblige one to respect disrespectful behavior.

    Reply
  • Linda Cirocco

    Hate groups are not to be tolerated anywhere. It is indecent (and immature) to speak to other humans in this harsh tone.

    Reply
  • Ami

    I grew up in the Lehigh Valley, graduated from Southern Lehigh, and chose to return home (after living all over the country for work) a dozen years ago once I married my wife and we decided to start a family. We now have three kids in the EPSD, two in elementary schools in one in middle school. I’m so disgusted that this subject seems to keep coming up at our school board meetings, yet I don’t ever hear of anyone on the “other” side of the story speaking out. As one of those kids who was fearful and bullied for being gay back in the 80s, it disgusts me that ADULTS are doing this to KIDS in 2018 in MY kids’ school district. Even my fourth grader has had to shut down anti-gay talk in her classroom when classmates are taunting each other with “you’re gay…that’s gay….so gay” discussions. What can those of us – and there are A LOT OF US – who don’t feel the same way Huff et all do – do to make OUR voices heard? I’m tired of being silent. I’m sick of rolling over and letting everyone else shout how they are right and the rest of us are wrong. And to have the hate group AFA show up at a school board and pontificate is absolutely disgusting. Not here. Not in this community. Not when there are more of “us” who believe in human dignity, decency, and just being a good person than there are of people spouting hate and wanting to close their kids off from the world. What can we do?

    Reply
    • Anne Keller-Smith

      Ami, COME to the school board meetings and make a statement in support of the Board, which has been very fair in their inclusion of all students. All you have to do is sign up when you come in. I have done it a couple of times, and it is highly appreciated. A sentence or two will do it entirely.

      Reply
      • Ami

        We did 🙂 My wife was there two weeks ago. And was quoted by news sources. We couldn’t come this week as we had to take one of our beloved fur babies for serious surgery that day and just wanted to hang with the family that night. I plan to be at the next one if this thing won’t die. I stayed home with the kids that night but was really proud of her, as she’s not one for public speaking.

        Reply

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