West Virginia schools' antibullying program targeted

BY Advocate.com Editors

October 18 2002 12:00 AM ET

A group of angry parents in Taylor County, W.Va., protested a state-sponsored school antibullying program on Thursday, claiming that the Civil Rights Team Project has a hidden anti-Christian agenda that fosters cultural intolerance rather than discouraging it.

"The Civil Rights Team Project actually propagates prejudice and violence," parent Karen Phillips said. "The only minority group not given protection is students who have been taught to love God and honor his precepts." Raucous applause and shouts of "Amen!" threatened to disrupt the meeting until board president Howard Persinger Jr. pleaded for calm.

"I know this is a hot topic, but we can't let this become a pep rally," said Persinger.

One angry woman shouted repeatedly during the meeting that parents could not address the board because they had not received sufficient advance notice to sign up to speak.
After she interrupted Persinger several times, state troopers removed her from the auditorium of Taylor County Middle School, where the meeting was being held. A half dozen of her supporters followed. "We don't mean to deny anybody the right to speak, but we have to have some order," Persinger said.

The conservative West Virginia Family Foundation has also challenged the Civil Rights Team Project, a joint venture of the schools and the attorney general's office, claiming it has a gay agenda. In August foundation president Kevin McCoy was quoted as saying that though the program is touted as a way to stop bullying, it is "nothing short of the indoctrination of children to accept the homosexual lifestyle."

The program is operating in at least 22 schools in West Virginia.

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