A Pennsylvania school district is refusing to show concerned parents a series of pro-LGBTQ videos students were forced to watch in April, prompting a threat of legal action from the Liberty Counsel, a religious liberty law firm.
Parents sounded off about the situation at a recent board meeting, where they accused Emmaus High School officials of promoting homosexual and transgender ideals without informing parents about the controversial videos, WFMZ reports.
“Would the school allow the opposite view to be presented to the students?” Diane Gramley, president of the American Family Association of Pennsylvania, asked the East Penn School District Board of Education.
The Christian Post reports:
The videos were part of activities organized for “Unity Week” and the nationwide “Day of Silence” sponsored by the national LGBT lobbying group GLSEN. The four videos that were shown to students were sponsored by the school’s Gay Straight Alliance club.
Principal Kate Kieres explained in a letter dated May 2 that one of the videos in question was titled “9 Questions Gay People Have About Straight People.” Another video was a clip from a CBS News story that explains what it means to be “gender fluid” and the negative experiences that people with fluid genders have in interacting with others.
The third video “was a compilation of clips celebrating marriage equality.” The fourth video was titled “Show your pride. Share your love” and included clips similar to those from the third video.
Several parents, as well as the Liberty Counsel, requested links to the actual videos, but Kieres simply refused. The principal contends the school board solicitor advised “these videos cannot be sent to you, because they are part of a student project.”
In a June 22 letter to East Penn Superintendent Michael Schilder, the Liberty Counsel called BS on the district’s excuse for withholding the videos and threatened legal action if officials refuse to cough up the links.
“It does not pass the straight face test for the District to claim it need not provide parents with the actual video links, although the District required more than 2,800 students to view these videos, with no prior notice to their parents, and no opportunity to opt-out. This is a gross violation of parental rights,” Liberty Counsel’s Richard Mast wrote.
The law firm also took issue with school’s relationship with GLSEN, which provides pro-LGBTQ propaganda for student “Gay-Straight Alliance” clubs, the Unity Week and Day of Silence.
“GLSEN is a political activist organization and seeks to co-opt good people’s opposition to bullying and name-calling, and everyone’s support for promoting ‘kindness,’ to normalize same-sex sexual activity and gender confusion as good, especially among children. GLSEN bills itself as teaching ‘tolerance,’ but teaches and promotes intolerance and social activism,” Mast wrote.
“The Gay-Straight Alliance is the student activism arm of GLSEN. GSA ‘advisors’ frequently plan and instigate the activities of the GSA, and pass them off as ‘student-led’ and initiated.”
Mast pointed out that the district’s own technology policy offers “no expectation of privacy” for any video or other materials sent or displayed with district resources, as well as state and federal laws that outline parents’ right to review questionable materials.
The Liberty Counsel also shot down the district’s false claim that the videos are “student projects” exempt from public records laws.
“The requested links to the YouTube videos shown to students are public records. None of the exceptions in 65 P.S. § 67.305, nor § 67.708, apply to the YouTube video links, despite any claim they are ‘student projects.’ Note as well that the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (‘FERPA’) (20 U.S.C. § 1232g; 34 CFR Part 99) also does not apply to the YouTube links. Principal Kieres confirmed that the videos were not created by the students, just (supposedly) selected by them,” Mast wrote.
And if the videos are truly part of a student project, the law requires the district to offer the same broad forum for students with different perspectives. Students were forced to watch the pro-LGBTQ videos during their homeroom classes for a week.
“The law therefore requires (and Liberty Counsel expects) that future requests by other students or groups of students for similar announcement resources, on other subjects, will be met with the same level of response by the District. In other words, the District must roll out the red carpet for the same access to the forum, regardless of the message other student groups wish to share, including accouchements, and including videos selected by the students on the topic of their choosing,” the letter read.
“Such topics might include the right to life, and adoption vs. abortion, Second Amendment rights, or other topics selected by students, including religious topics.”
The Liberty Counsel is giving district officials until the end of the day July 23, 2018 to provide the pro-LGBTQ video links, all emails regarding the “Day of Silence” GLSEN or the videos, and emails between student advisor Kristen Grim and Principal Kieres.
“If I do not receive these items,” Mast wrote, “Liberty Counsel will take further action to prevent irreparable harm to the rights of local parents.”