The White House posted a late night (11:30pm) blog Thursday of a video by President Obama on bullying and LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) youth suicides. [The 3:08 minute video can be seen below.]
Shortly afterwards, GLSEN (the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network) posted a blog message from its executive director, Eliza Byard announcing President Obama’s video.
GLSEN Uses Obama Video as Backdrop to Criticize Schools, Slam Public Debate, & Lobby for Political Action
Ms. Byard’s message included criticism of schools for not taking action to protect students. She also slammed the “tenor of public debate” on the issues. Ms. Byard used the opportunity to lobby individuals to email President Obama for his support of LGBT youth and to call for political action to pass two bills currently in Congress, including pressing for the President to back his words with action.
“We need the President’s clear endorsement of the vital principles embodied in the Safe Schools Improvement Act and the Student Non-Discrimination Act. GLSEN will continue to work closely with the Administration to achieve this goal and to forge further progress at the agency level.
As the current crisis tragically illustrates, far too many school districts have not taken the actions needed to protect all students. And the tenor of public debate in this country stands in the way of effective local action and finding common ground. At times like these, on the difficult issues that really matter, Presidential leadership is paramount.
…Whether it is from the schoolyard bully singling out a vulnerable classmate, or from a major-party candidate spewing anti-LGBT vitriol, the young people whom the President seeks to reach face a barrage of negative messages that can drive them to alienation and despair. They need his words, delivered now in this message, and they also need his actions.
Eliza Byard, GLSEN Executive Director”
Obama Offers Support; Frames Bullying as Discrimination
President Obama spent a good portion of his comments offering support for bullied and LGBT youth. In the latter part of his video (text transcript available at White House web site), the President shifted the conversation to fighting discrimination.
My Take: Special Interest, Civil Rights-Oriented “Anti-Bullying” Bills to be Pushed Through During Lame Duck Congress?
The politicization of bullying and school safety has now officially reached epidemic and unprecedented levels. GLSEN and other advocates have intensified over the past year their lobbying for federal laws under the guise of bullying which appear to be more civil rights than bullying oriented. And now it has reached the highest level of federal government, beginning with Education Secretary Arne Duncan and progressing within two weeks to include Obama Advisor Valerie Jarrett, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and now the President himself.
It seems more than a coincidence that within a relatively short time of a couple hours, following an 11:30pm blog post by the White House, GLSEN had their own blog letter posted on their site encouraging political action. Call me a cynic, but in my experience things like these are typically well coordinated behind-the-scenes. It is interesting to see both posts dropped after 11:30pm at night.
So the next logical question is this: Will President Obama and Congress, in response to pressure from special interest group lobbying from the LGBT community, push the Safe Schools Improvement Act and the the Student Non-Discrimination Act into law to appease their political constituencies? Will these bills be part of “Lame Duck” Congressional legislation rushed through the system before a new Congress takes seat in January, especially given the anticipated shift of power in at least the House of Representatives?
My Take – Part II: Mischaracterizing of School Actions on Bullying and Blatant Disrespect for Public Debate
GLSEN’s characterization of a “current crisis” adds fuel to the fire of media and public hysteria which has erupted over bullying. The hysteria has been heavily driven by special interest groups attempting to advance their social and political agendas under the guise of bullying.
GLSEN’s broad-stroke attack on school districts in which they claim that schools are not taking action to protect students is inflammatory and misleading, at best. Schools across the nation have worked hard, especially in the post-Columbine era, to address bullying and school climate issues. While there is common agreement that bullying is a legitimate issue which needs to be a part of a comprehensive approach to school safety, there are professional differences in opinion as to how to get there — and if proposed anti-bullying laws best serve schools or just serve special interest political agendas.
To state that the “tenor of public debate in this country stands in the way of effective local action and finding common ground” is arrogant and demeaning to the intelligence of educators, Americans, and the fundamental Democratic process of debate upon which America is based. To call for the President to bypass public debate and pursue what one special interest group is advocating for is insulting not only to the education community, but to Americans as a whole who believe in our societal standard of public discourse and debate.
What say you?
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