News Release
For Immediate Release:   October 28, 2010
Contact:  Diane Gramley   1.814.271.9078 or 1.814.437.5355

Who are the Bullies Now?

(Harrisburg) – Two days ago the US Department of Education Office of Civil Rights (OCR) issued “guidance” to the nation’s schools on how to stop ALL bullying in educational institutions – with an apparent emphasis on how to stop the bullying of students who identity as homosexual.   The ‘guidance’ comes in the form of a “Dear Colleague”  letter that in essence bullies schools with threats that they MAY violate federal civil rights laws if they only adhere to their school anti-bullying policies.  The American Family Association of Pennsylvania (AFA of PA), a statewide family values organization, notes that this step follows on the heels of last year’s Department of Justice Office of Civil Rights announcement that they would make pursuing gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender discrimination cases a top priority.   Additionally, the AFA of PA notes that this is only a natural next step since in May 2009 President Obama appointed Kevin Jennings, founder and former Executive Director of the Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network, to be the Assistant Deputy Secretary in the Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools.  One must also ask whether it was ‘coincidental’ that the first ever ‘bullying summit’ held in August was hosted by his office  or that the President has joined the “It Gets Better Project.”

“We can all agree that schools should be a safe learning environment for all students and I believe we can all agree that, unfortunately, there have always been bullies.  But one must ask if the increase in bullying may not have something to do with the very devaluation of life through the legalization of abortion and euthanasia?  Pennsylvania schools are required to have policies in place to combat all bullying and schools should be held accountable if they do not adhere to their own policies.   But the OCR seems to have overstepped its bounds and interpreted civil rights laws in a whole new way,” Diane Gramley, president of the AFA of PA remarked.

In 2003 in dealing with an Erie County school district’s efforts to include ‘sexual orientation and gender identity’ to their anti-harassment policy, their solicitor said they had to make those changes because, among other reasons, the OCR required that the changes be made.   Closer examination of the OCR communication showed the solicitor to be in error and subsequent efforts to seek clarification from the DOE OCR Philadelphia office confirmed that the OCR did not have the jurisdiction to deal with issues concerning ‘sexual orientation.’

The news release issued announcing the newest “Dear Colleague” letter states, “The guidance issued today also makes clear that while current laws enforced by the department do not protect against harassment based on religion or sexual orientation, they do include protection against harassment of members of religious groups based on shared ethnic characteristics as well as gender and sexual harassment of gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, and transgender individuals.”

“Is this an effort to “encourage” all schools in the nation to add ‘sexual orientation’ to their anti-bullying policies?  Is it an effort to use the force of law to demand silence from those students with deeply held religious beliefs that engaging in homosexual acts is sinful?  If nothing else it IS a federal effort to further equate homosexuality to skin color and ethnicity and try to make it a civil rights issue.  Schools should deal with ALL bullying at ALL times – period,” further remarked Gramley.

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