The Wemstroms expressed their regret that a recent proposed bullying bill (HB 5290) failed to pass in the Illinois Senate [“Bullying bill should have been passed,” Freeport Journal-Standard June 26] and laid the blame for this failure on the Illinois Family Institute (IFI). Despite assertions to the contrary, IFI, like the Wemstroms, deeply desires an end to bullying. We simply disagree with the Wemstroms on the best means to achieve that end.
Anyone who has been playing close attention to the bullying issue knows that homosexual activists believe that the only way to end bullying of students who identify as homosexual is to eradicate conservative views on the nature and morality of homosexuality or to make it socially and legally impossible to express them. Homosexual activists are exploiting legitimate anti-bullying sentiment to achieve that goal through anti-bullying programs in public schools.
Perhaps the Wemstroms are unaware that a comprehensive — and in our view troubling — anti-bullying bill passed (SB 3266) and was signed into law in 2010. That law mandated that the state superintendent of schools create a bullying prevention task force charged with making recommendations for schools on bullying policy. Illinois’ State Superintendent of Schools Christopher Koch assembled an ideologically biased task force that came up with such recommendations in the form of a 106-page document that was posted on the Illinois State Board of Education website on March 1, 2011.
As IFI reported, HB 5290 would have mandated nothing. It was a set of non-mandatory “guidelines” that simply restated the recommendations created by the leftwing anti-bullying task force.
In addition, during floor debates on HB 5290, the bill’s sponsor admitted that only three school districts out of approximately 900 public and non-sectarian districts lacked bullying policy.
The Wemstroms suggest that IFI wanted an opt-out provision “which presumably would have allowed students not to attend assemblies where bullying was discussed.” Actually, we and others, including lawmakers, sought an opt-out provision so that parents had the right to opt their children out of any “youth programming” that includes explicit or implicit assumptions about the nature and morality of homosexuality or gender confusion. The bill’s sponsors refused to include such a reasonable protection of parental rights.
The Wemstroms have engaged in the usual rhetoric of “progressives,” which involves demonizing anyone who doesn’t support every particular piece of legislation proposed by homosexual activist organizations like the Illinois Safe Schools Alliance that created the existing bullying law and served on the task force that created the ISBE recommendations. In that effort, the Wemstroms call IFI “anti-gay,” a term which cunningly conflates moral opposition to volitional acts with hatred of persons.
IFI believes that volitional homosexual acts are immoral and harmful to individuals. We believe that widespread cultural affirmation of volitional homosexual acts is destructive to society. And we unwaveringly oppose the exploitation of legitimate anti-bullying sentiment to change the moral and political beliefs of students in public schools.
Our beliefs about the morality of volitional homosexual acts, however, do not diminish our recognition of the infinite worth of those who experience unchosen same-sex attraction and who choose to make those unchosen feelings central to their identity. Nor do our moral beliefs diminish the pleasure we take in the company of those who hold views different from ours or the love we have for friends and family members who believe and act in ways that we think are wrong.
Opposition to bullying does not require support for every proposal to come down the legislative pike.