Politics of Bullying & School Safety: Obama & Gay Rights Agenda

Posted by on March 11, 2011

The Obama Administration has politicized federal policy and funding for K-12 school safety more than any other President in history.

The White House Conference on Bullying Prevention on the surface may seem to have been about putting a straight-forward spotlight on bullying. But behind-the-scenes is an increasingly clear gay rights and civil rights political agenda being masked under the guise of bullying and school safety.

The real story goes much deeper than the scripted event with a stage full of academicians who could not stop saying “school climate” or with President Obama turning a widely repeated soundbite about being bullied due to his big ears and different name.


The invitee list at the White House Conference on Bullying Prevention is one of the most telltale signs of how Obama, Education Secretary Arne Duncan, Assistant Deputy Secretary of Education Kevin Jennings, and a slew of gay rights activists are advancing gay rights and civil rights social and political agendas under the guise of “bullying” and “school safety” — and of course, “incivility” and “school climate.”

While I await a response to my third request in three days to the White House Media Office for the official invitee list with names and organizational affiliations, I have started compiling my own.

In my March 2nd article on White House Bullying Conference: School Safety or Gay Agenda?, I highlighted a number of conference invitees cited in various online gay media outlets.  The Washington Blade identified the Gay, Lesbian, & Straight Education Network (GLSEN), The Trevor Project, and the Human Rights Campaign — all gay rights special interest groups — as invited attendees.  The Keen News Service  identified the National Center for Transgender Equality as an attendee. Dan Savage of It Gets Better Project was also in attendance.

GLSEN reported taking a five person “delegation” to the White House with an intended goal clear in their headline, “GLSEN Representatives to Press for Federal Leadership, LGBT-Inclusive Efforts at White House Conference on Bullying.” 

Eliza Byard, GLSEN’s Executive Director, sent a message on her White House trip indicating:

“Today we will see representatives of all of our most important organizational allies at the White House – the unions, the professional associations, organizations advocating for all of the communities so deeply affected by bullying.  We have all been summoned to discuss how best to respond to the public health crisis of bullying. GLSEN’s job, and that of our allies and friends, is to ensure that the coordinated response that emerges truly helps all those who suffer because of anti-LGBT bias and behavior in our schools. We want to be sure that the anti-bullying “moment” of the past nine months results in action that benefits all students, regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity or gender expression.”

GLSEN’s Northern Virginia associate also was in attendance according to GLSEN Delegation’s blog reflecting their day at the White House.

Joel Burns, an openly gay Fort Worth city councilman, was in attendance and posted a Facebook photo of gay rights activists at the White House Bullying Conference including Burns, Dan Savage (It Gets Better Project), Brian Bond (White House liaison to the gay community), GLSEN’s Eliza Byard, and Kevin Jennings, Obama’s Assistant Deputy Secretary for safe schools and founder of GLSEN:

Administration officials also included Russlyn Ali, head of the Education Department’s Office of Civil Rights, and Tom Perez, the Justice Department’s assistant attorney general.  Both have actively pursued federal civil rights investigations against local schools for their handling bullying incidents.

It is not surprising, given the packed house of invited gay rights and civil rights activists, that Kevin Jennings noted in his weekly e-newsletter that space was limited at the White House Conference on Bullying.


Gay and civil rights advocates within and outside of the Obama Administration have been moving like a runaway train in the past two years to advance their social and political agendas under the guise of “bullying” and “school safety.” 

While unsuccessful in getting legislation passed by Congress, they have radically shifted federal school safety policy and funding administratively and in funding.  Some examples include:

  1. Lobbying to pass the Safe Schools Improvement Act (SSIA)  and the Student Non-Discrimination Act, two bills repeatedly introduced (and repeatedly unsuccessful in enactment) in Congress.   Senators Bob Casey(D-PA), Al Franken (D-MN), Kristen Gillibrand (D-NY), Mark Kirk (R-IL), and Representatives Linda Sanchez (D-CA), Jared Polis (D-CO), and numerous others have pushed for the SSIA.  Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) and Representative Rush Holt (D-NJ) also introduced the Tyler Clementi Higher Education Anti-Harassment Act.  The social and political goal of gay rights activists is to have the phrases “sexual orientation” and “gender identification” enumerated into federal law, in essence creating a back-door civil rights law and legally creating a new protected class via federal law — all under the guise of “bullying” and “school safety.”
  2. Yet another federal web site StopBullyingNow.gov, which includes a dedicated front-page link to LGBT bullying pages.  
  3. Skewed Federal Funding:  An initial $38 million in grants to states from the Department of Education (Kevin Jennings’ Safe and Supportive Schools Program) for the purpose of creating “school climate surveys” for bullying and giving school safety scores to schools based on the results of these surveys.  It is still unclear exactly what the required survey questions and focus will be, but some school safety specialists are sure this includes an effort to create the first major LGBT data sources in the federal government.  Jennings, Duncan, and Obama have asked for another $365 million for this program in FY2012, after cutting $295 million in Safe and Drug Free Schools state program grant funds to local schools last year and eliminating $30 million for the only dedicated federal school emergency planning grant program this year. 
  4. A new National Action Alliance on Suicide Prevention created by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius under the direction of openly gay HHS administor Pamela Hyde with a focus on LGBT youths.  The Alliance formed a task force to reduce suicide among LGBT youth which is co-chaired by Kevin Jennings and Charles Robbins, Executive Director of The Trevor Project.  In December, the SAMHSA announced availability of $5.5 million for campus suicide prevention programs that meet the needs of at-risk you including LGBT youth.   One report indicates HHS awarded $13.3 million for a five-year grant to create a “model program that will provide life-saving support” for LGBTQ youth in the foster care system. 
  5. A jetsettingspeaking tour of over 35 speeches around the country at taxpayer expense by Kevin Jennings at private for-profit, non-profit, and other conferences on bullying, LGBT, diversity, civil rights, and related topics.
  6. An overreaching radical shift in federal school safety policy by the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights which issued a 10-page “Dear Colleagues Letter” (DCL) to the nation’s schools redefining bullying as a federal potential civil rights harassment violation, including for sexual orientation and gender identification (even though this is not written into the law).  This was challenged by the National School Boards Association, which argues it is an overly expansive interpretation of federal law that will increase frivolous lawsuits against schools, in a December 7, 2010, letter to Charlie Rose, General Counsel for the U.S. Department of Education.

“Bullying” and “school safety” have been redefined by Kevin Jennings and the Obama Administration.  Instead of having a balanced and comprehensive approach to school safety, Jennings and the Obama Administration have removed almost any discussions on violence, school security, school emergency preparedness, school-based policing, and other elements of what should be a comprehensive federal policy and funding approach to school safety.

Should bullying, school climate, and other issues be included in a comprehensive approach to school safety? Absolutely.  But this Administration has one narrowly skewed policy and funding approach to school safety primarily driven by gay rights and civil rights agendas.

No, my position is not homophobic.  It is politi-phobic.  I have a phobia of individuals who distort, skew, and politicize federal public school safety policy and public funding to advance special interest social and political agendas. 

Unfortunately, those individuals and organizations are currently making President Obama and his Administration the most political in history on school safety issues.

Ken Trump

Visit School Security Blog at:  http://www.schoolsecurityblog.com

2 thoughts on “Politics of Bullying & School Safety: Obama & Gay Rights Agenda

  1. Derek Randel says:

    Excellent post, again. This conference seems to be more about votes and payback than anything else.

    1. Ken Trump says:

      Thanks again, Derek. People in general, and even those in our field, don’t have a clue how deep the politics is with the federal “bullying” agenda. This is unquestionably the most politicized Administration when it comes to school safety than any in history. Thanks for following!

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