An anti-bullying campaign at Upstate New York middle school have some parents upset after learning their daughters were instructed to ask each other for a kiss, the Poughkeepsie (New York) Journal reports.
A group of students from Bard College, a private liberal arts school in Annandale-on-Hudson, N.Y., 37 miles north of Poughkeepsie and two hours from New York City, led an anti-bullying campaign at Linden Avenue Middle School in Red Hook, N.Y. Red Hook is a town in the mid-Hudson Valley, which shares the same name as a Brooklyn, N.Y., neighborhood.
Paul Finch, superintendent of the Red Hook Central School District, told the Journal that the intent of the presentation was to improve culture, relationships, communication and self-perceptions. He added that these are issues schools must discuss under New York’s Dignity for All Students Act.
The act mandates local school districts to work on creating a safe and supportive environment, free from discrimination, intimidation, taunting, harassment and bullying.
Students from Bard created the workshop in tandem with Linden Avenue Middle School Principal Katie Zahedi and guidance councilors. The lesson plan included role-playing on how to say no peer pressure and education on gender identity and sexual orientation.
The college students led two groups with the students separated by gender. During the workshops, middle-school students learned LGBT-friendly vocabulary such as "pansexual" and "genderqueer." Parents were angered that they were not notified about the workshop.
Some were extremely upset after learning instructors told female students to ask each other for a kiss. Mary Coon, a parent of an eight-grade student, said that her daughter was uncomfortable during the lesson.
The Christian News Network reported that she told had her mother, "Mom, we all get teased and picked on enough; now I’m going to be called a lesbian because I had to ask another girl if I could kiss her."
"They also picked two girls to stand in front of the class and pretend they were lesbians on a date," Coon said. She described herself as "furious" for not being given advance warning about the workshop. "I am her parent," she said. "Where does anyone get the right to tell her that it’s okay for her to have sex?"
She told the Journal that the situation "just baffles me. If they are required to have this course, why are they bringing in other unlicensed, untrained professionals -- college kids -- to teach this?"
Christian News Network reported another distraught parent complaining, "The school is overstepping its bounds in not notifying parents first and giving us the choice."
"I thought it was very inappropriate," another said. "That kind of instruction is best left up to the parents."
Zahedi took to a Facebook forum for parents to defend the workshop. She wrote that the lesson was "not to pretend to be gay" but to practice saying "no" to unwarranted advances. In planning the discussion, we made it clear that absolutely no discussion of any sexual acts is appropriate to middle school, and they used the examples of a kiss. It was a separate activity for boys and girls and ultimately about respect and safety."
After a FoxNews website picked up the story, the outraged comments rolled in.
"This isn’t an anti bullying lesson, its indoctrination," Joel Rivera wrote. "It looks as if this tax payer funded, government run school is trying to meet its quota in creating homosexual/pro-homosexual youth with a skewered sense of sexuality right under the noses of the unsuspecting but now very visibly angry parents."
A commenter on Free Republic called it "child abuse. File police reports get the school officials arrested. Have the children evaluated and then file monumental lawsuits due to psychological injury. Bring in the attack lawyers."
" This campaign will be used to silence Christians and anyone else who speaks out against homosexuality," another wrote.
From our media partner EDGEJason St. Amand, EDGE