“First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win.”
— Mahatma Gandhi
We must be winning. We’re being “stalked” by a professional writer from Focus on The Family (FOtF).
Apparently, FOtF recently alerted its readers to a complaint about a sexuality and drugs education assembly in Boulder, Colorado, a panel discussion that was largely organized by students. The presentation and Q&A with the four panelists ranged from why the so-called “War on Drugs” hasn’t worked, why it’s important to stay in school, the elements of healthy, age appropriate sexual behavior (“..you know, when you are 12, 13, 14, certainly one of the most appropriate sexual behaviors would be masturbation”), and not being emotionally ready for sex. The entire transcript of the program is available on the Boulder Valley School District site. In response to the complaint lodged by a parent that was subsequently disseminated by FOtF, the organizers said that it was the first complaint in a decade-old partnership with the school.
In a statement [issued May 15], conference organizers, who reviewed recordings from the 90-minute panel, said the participants spoke “candidly and sensibly to the high school audience, providing cautionary information about alcohol consumption, drugs, sexual issues and teens.”
The FOtF alert focuses exclusively on one panelist, clinical psychologist Joel Becker, because he is a member of the Lesbian and Gay Psychotherapy Association of Southern California, and because he makes clear that emotional readiness and responsibility, not sexual orientation, are the determinants of healthy sexual behavior.
Our “former” FOtF writer, local blogger Barbara Curtis, somehow found this specious complaint to be relevant to Equality Loudoun’s advocacy work and used it to launch yet another assault on our community.
Barbara writes a “mommy blog” that is increasingly deviating from its “family-friendly” mission and simply engages in gay-bashing. This incident and the subsequent “wake-up call to parents” is just the most recent example of Barbara’s obsession. Despite Barbara’s insistence that “only 2-3%” of her content is concerned with the gay community, as of June 2, 40% of the content on her home page – four out of ten posts – was dedicated to gay themes and Equality Loudoun-bashing innuendo. Could this be an instance of “guilt by association?” (Which is not to say that there was anything wrong with the panel discussion, overall. Read the transcript. The students had some great questions, and the panelists were actually interested in what they thought.) Barbara, we hate to break it to you, but Equality Loudoun didn’t have anything to do with the Boulder assembly. We do, however, appreciate the attention. It brings to mind the Gandhi quote that opens this post.
Our stalker finds fighting us mysteriously compelling. There is no other explanation for three factual errors in this single paragraph on her blog:
Here where I live in Virginia, there’s a  teensy group who’d  love to see the same outrageous stuff in our public schools.  They fight against anything that stands in the way of promoting the sexualization of our children.
Let’s address these one at a time.
 Equality Loudoun is not teensy.
Variances in human sexuality are normal and natural, and subsequently, GLBT Equality groups exist in Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun, Prince William, Culpepper/Fauqier and many other areas of Virginia. These groups were only one part of the grassroots effort across the state that mobilized nearly one million voters in November 2006 to oppose the so-called “marriage amendment” and have built a large and influential civil rights movement. One must purposefully misread the news if that fact is not obvious.
 Equality Loudoun has no interest in seeing outrageous stuff in the public schools.
The Equality Loudoun community includes many parents with children in the public school system, and our community naturally advocates for quality education with strong moral foundational values. One of those values is honesty. We have been drawn into particular controversial school issues by the local Anti-Gay Industry (AGI), for instance when they attempted to censor the play “Offsides” and paint it as the work of “outside homosexual activists.” The facts around that event are well documented in our archive. The play was an independent student work, the most disturbing aspect of the play was the violence depicted in it, and it was in fact the anti-gay activists themselves who attempted to sexualize the content, such as former Delegate Dick Black’s preposterous statement that the play included “homoerotic sex acts.” The local AGI lied about the play and about Loudoun’s GLBT community in such an outrageous manner that one activist had to be censured at a school board meeting and the Loudoun Times-Mirror referred to the behavior of those behind the fake controversy as “Ugly”. We have seen enough of such “outrageous stuff,” and have no desire to see more.
We’ve also promoted productions such a the play “Normal” which the public school system failed to advertise. Normal was a beautiful and positive portrayal of the adolescent experience, completely in the voices of adolescents themselves. We can’t imagine why Barbara, with her keen interest in children and local theater, hasn’t been promoting it as well. Thoughts?
 Equality Loudoun opposes all outside attempts to sexualize children.
This was the primary basis for our criticism of the Keith Deltano presentation. Instead of listening to the real concerns, identities and experiences of young people, Deltano inappropriately sexualizes them, telling them what and who they are (i.e., they will all get married and procreate) according to his personal world view. In a recent incident in Ohio, Mr. Deltano violated his agreement with the school system and introduced sexual content to seventh graders. In this school, parents aren’t asked to sign permission slips for sex education until the eighth grade, and the administration had to send home letters to 700 parents apologizing for exposing their children to Deltano’s raunchy assembly. Mr. Deltano also appears to have a sexualizing problem with women. At the Loudoun “parent workshop,” he referred to his own wife’s breasts as “hooters.” He also admitted that he could not eat at a Hooters restaurant because he would be too distracted by the waitress’s outfits. The message that abstinence is the most responsible choice for adolescents wouldn’t be objectionable. The message that “everyone” is heterosexual, and is destined to behave in a cartoonishly gender-stereotypical manner, is. This is in fact “sexualizing children,” and responsible adults should Just Say No to it.
Finally, Barbara follows the third charge with this question:
One might wonder what’s it in for childless homosexuals who harangue the public schools each time an abstinence speaker offers a secular presentation on the wisdom of avoiding promiscuity and disease.
In essence, she is making the claim that members of our community are not only “childless,” but are promoting “promiscuity and disease.” Since Barbara claims to have special insight into the GLBT community, and also knows some members of the Equality Loudoun board personally, she also knows that nothing could be further from the truth on both counts. This is the same type of groundless propaganda we heard at those school board meetings, and that we see in this cartoon, published in the lead up to the Holocaust. Students of history will recall that one of the commonly made claims was that “Jews drink the blood of Christian children.”
I’d like to think that Barbara did not mean to misrepresent the facts and to heap scorn onto our entire community. If that was her motivation, she risks being labeled anti-Christian, and I know from conversations we’ve had that that’s not her intent. At the same time, her writing appears to be driven by an anti-gay political agenda designed to present herself in the most positive light while falsely assigning motivations and positions to Equality Loudoun that we clearly do not have.
In Part 2, I’ll be applying her rhetorical techniques to the words she has written in the referenced blog entry to illustrate how sinister those techniques are. It’s important to be able to recognize them.