Student LGBTQ YouTube Project Angers Litigious Religious Group

An April 27th morning announcement at Emmaus High School in Pennsylvania may go down as the most controversial high school morning announcement in history… because of the YouTube videos students incorporated.

Every year, the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN) raises awareness of the bullying LGBTQ students still face with The Day of Silence, an annual tradition that encourages just that, a vow of silence among students. This year, it fell on April 27th, where students at Emmaus thought it would be a good idea to play some anti-bullying YouTube videos to the school as well.

Conservative parents are outraged, claiming their parental rights have been violated and that their children were subjected to homosexual “propaganda.” One parent alleged his son felt “bullied” because he was heterosexual. A school board meeting last Monday was packed and heated, with one student telling local paper The Morning Callhe was called a homophobic slur for helping curate said YouTube videos at a prior school board meeting.

Then this week, the Liberty Counsel, a non-profit group that offers legal aid and assists in lawsuits related to Evangelical values, stepped into the fray with a bizarre letter to the school demanding all public records related to the morning announcement and the links to the videos used in the student project. One of the videos is a CBS report. Another is the Buzzfeed video “9 Questions Gay People Have About Straight People.” Yet another is a YouTube Spotlight video that has been viewed more than 3 million times. There is nothing stopping conservative parents from watching these videos with their children at home, so the letter comes off as disingenuous, at best. “Parents have the right to know the exact nature of the special-interest propaganda their children have been subjected to when at school,” wrote Mat Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel, in the letter.

The school refused to comply on the grounds that “a parent or member of the public has no right to view or access a student’s term paper, speech, or multimedia project just because he or she objects to the topic.”

Diane Gramley, president of the American Family Association of Pennsylvania, asked in an interview with a local TV station if the school would “allow the opposite views to be played?”

A strange question, because playing the opposite view would defeat the whole purpose of the anti-bullying seminar on the Day of Silence in the first place. Playing a conservative Evangelical video, a community known for blaming LGBTQ folks as the reason for most of society’s ills and refusing to bake gay wedding cakes, would very well be considered bullying.

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