By Trudy Ring
Originally published on Advocate.com September 14 2012 1:57 PM ET
The antigay religious right group Mission: America is taking its own approach to addressing the problem of youth bullying, with a new pamphlet saying intervention to stop homophobic bullying should never include “saying ‘gay’ is okay.”
“Kids who are overweight are sometimes bullied, too,” reads the pamphlet, titled “Q and A for Kids About Homosexuality.” “And we might want to make that person feel better. But it would be a mistake to say that overeating is a good thing, right?
“So tell your friends, in a nice way, that no one needs to be ‘gay’ or pretend to be the other gender. It’s not the right thing to do! ... God loves everyone, but He doesn’t want us to sin.”
Mission: America leader Linda Harvey, known for many anti-LGBT statements, “said she wrote the brochure in response to requests by parents concerned their kids will be exposed to the ‘sin of homosexuality,’” ABC News reports. The network quotes her as saying, “You can both strongly object to bullying or harassment or cruelty of any kind and also object to homosexuality — the vast majority of the country holds both opinions simultaneously.”
LGBT groups were quick to respond. “Mission: America might claim to discourage bullying, but telling someone that they are wrong, sinful, broken or ‘pretending’ is bullying in and of itself,” noted a Human Rights Campaign blog post on the flier. And GLAAD president Herndon Graddick said, “Encouraging young people to reject or speak out against a peer because of something they can’t change is bullying at its worst.”
The Southern Poverty Law Center has classified Ohio-based Mission: America as a hate group, and Truth Wins Out has called Harvey “the most unhingedly homophobic woman in America.” Among other things, she has said that school policies encouraging acceptance of LGBT people are “grooming” young people to become victims of pedophiles, as in the Penn State scandal.