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By Steve Gushee, Palm Beach Post Religion Writer
Friday, February 28, 2003

Most people surely agree that no one should bully students. A few Christians, however, think it is always appropriate to bully gay kids.

Some conservative Christian groups oppose efforts by schools trying to stop kids from ridiculing classmates so students can
continue to intimidate gay kids.

They read Scripture literally and insist it condemns homosexuality and, by implication, approves of the most outrageous treatment of homosexuals. That betrays a warped biblical interpretation rooted in ignorance, hatred and fear.

They mock Christianity and deny the teaching of its master.

Jesus said nothing at all about homosexuality. He said a great deal about loving your neighbor.

Using Scripture to justify harassing kids is nonsense at best.

It is more akin to biblical dishonesty that rationalizes immoral behavior. The issue surfaced when school districts began to respond to school violence following the Columbine High School shooting in 1999.

School policies forbid bullying, usually defined as any overt act directed against a student with the intent to ridicule, humiliate or intimidate. Specific areas of harassment include race, color, sex, sexual orientation, religion and ancestry.

The student and family handbook of the Palm Beach County school district uses essentially that language.

Incredibly, some Christian advocacy groups, such as the Family Research Council in Washington, D.C., object to the ban
on bullying gay kids. So they work to defeat the entire policy, according to a recent Wall Street Journal article. They claim
that "safe schools" programs are stealth vehicles that promote homosexuality.

The attorney general's office in West Virginia withdrew support of a school-based anti-bullying policy due to pressure from a religious group, the story reported.

Peter Sprigg of the Family Research Council seems to believe that harassing gay kids is a God-given right that good Christian folk must preserve. Simply discussing homosexuality in school, much less banning the intimidation of gay kids, seems to threaten that right.

"We feel it is stigmatizing anyone who holds a traditional moral view that disapproves of homosexuality," Sprigg said in the Journal story.

Christians who try to scuttle school programs in order to persecute kids are beyond the pale. They advocate cruel, malicious treatment of innocent kids in the name of God. They hurt young people terribly. They disgrace their faith. They mock common decency.


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