News - January 1996

Federal money shouldn't "promote" homosexuality

WASHINGTON -- Federal money should not be used to pay for educational materials that promote acceptance of homosexuality, a House committee was told recently.

A Minnesota booklet, "Alone No More," was intended as a guide for schools to develop support groups for homosexual and bisexual students. It was funded by a grant from an AIDS prevention program at the federal Centers for Disease Control.

"The booklet very blatantly advocates the gay and lesbian lifestyle," Warren Grantham, a theology student who has a daughter, 14, and son, 11, in the St. Paul schools, told the Associated Press.

Grantham ran a unsuccessful bid for a seat on the St. Paul School Board this fall. He said the booklet "is replete with references that attempt to normalize the gay/lesbian lifestyle'' and denigrates the beliefs of people who believe homosexuality is wrong.

The booklet's introduction said its goal was to ''challenge schools to examine the environment (for homosexuals and bisexuals) and then to assist schools in developing a sensitive, inclusive environment.''

The state no longer distributes the booklet, said Barbara Schlafer, a spokeswoman for the state Children, Families and Learning Department. It was published in May 1994.

"In my opinion it's unfair of Mr. Grantham to go out to Washington and paint this as something big and new. It's an old dead issue," she said. "It's a one-time project that is no more."

The booklet was given to schools that requested it, she said.

Grantham was one of several conservative parents who testified at a hearing by the Oversight and Investigations subcommittee of the House Economic and Educational Opportunities Committee.

"My two children are being taught at home that sexual activity of any kind should be saved for marriage. Yet there is a very different message that they get from school officials these days,'' Grantham told the Associated Press.

A gay Republican congressman, Steve Gunderson of Wisconsin, defended the federal funding of educational materials on AIDS and homosexuality.

"The role of the federal government is to provide leadership and technical assistance in all matters of education," he said. While some sex education programs "may be offensive to some students and their families," students must be "taught broad values of respect, equality and tolerance," Gunderson said.

Democrats on the committee seized on the fact that Grantham and other witnesses had been unable to get elected or convince local school boards of their views.

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