February 2001 – Numerous groups appear to be joining the crusade to push the homosexual agenda in the nation's public schools. Now National Parent Teacher Association (PTA) President Ginny Markell said her organization would be making available a video which embraces same-sex families as part of a nationwide effort to fight discrimination against homosexuals.
Markell made the comments at a White House screening of the video That's a Family!, a film that explores the many varieties of family combinations in which a child might grow up. The film uses real-life examples of children ages eight to 13, who describe what it's like growing up in single parent, multiracial, divorced and adoptive families, as well as "families" headed by same-sex couples. That's a Family! teaches that all such combinations are legitimate and should be accepted by society.
The video is from Debra Chasnoff and Helen Cohen, the same producers of It's Elementary: Talking About Gay Issues in School, a 1996 film that stirred controversy in communities across the nation. However, while the latter was aimed at teachers and school administrators, That's a Family! is intended to be shown directly to children. As in It's Elementary, Chasnoff and Cohen use the same strategy in their new film: using children to make the case for the acceptance of homosexuality.
"My dads are gay, and gay means when two men or two women love each other," says one girl in That's a Family!, as she looks into the camera. "It's sort of like having a mom and dad who love each other. It's just that it's a man and a man or a woman and a woman."
Breaking new ground
Chasnoff told the San Francisco Chronicle, "The film itself breaks new ground…as a resource for children that is inclusive of gay and lesbian issues. For the White House to embrace it in this way is tremendously significant and, I think, a statement of recognition about what we need to be doing in this whole country to prevent prejudice."
The screening of the video in December was through the White House Office of Public Liaison, where Ben Johnson, assistant to the president, welcomed the representatives of more than 100 national organizations. Besides the National PTA, among those in attendance were Girl Scouts of America, Young Women's Christian Association, National Education Association (NEA), and the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network. All pledged to use the video to promote tolerance, according to Women's Educational Media (WEM), which funded the production and distribution of both It's Elementary and That's a Family!
According to CNSNews, Chasnoff told the gathering that she hoped to be able to distribute That's a Family! to grassroots educational networks so that as many children see this film as possible.
"There is an enormous amount of education that needs to be done with kids so that they come to understand that gay is not a bad word but is actually an adjective that describes how real people live and how real people in their school communities live," she said.
A starting point for tolerance
The PTA obviously intends to participate in that education process. In addressing the White House gathering, PTA's Markell said That's a Family! was "a starting point for all of us to understand our differences," and called on the organization representatives to "get more vocal" about issues like tolerance and diversity.
According to a WEM press release, Markell told the gathering that the PTA would be spearheading a new campaign addressing these issues, and That's a Family! would be listed in the organization's resource guide for that purpose. PTA's influence in public education is impressive. It claims almost 6.5 million members in 26,000 local chapters in all 50 states.
In an interview with AFA Journal, National PTA spokeswoman Patricia Malick said including That's a Family! in the resource guide for parents, teachers, and schools was done to "help teach tolerance or to build understanding" in children that there are different lifestyles.
While Malick said the National PTA did not take a specific position on controversial issues such as same-sex marriage, the organization's position on homosexuality was made quite clear.
"National PTA is opposed to discrimination on the basis of race, gender, national origin, language, religion, age--you name it. And that includes sexual orientation.… And we do endorse tolerance," Malick said.
Conservatives argue that the education establishment--and adjunct groups like the PTA or the NEA--should be trying to improve education, not advocating controversial subjects like homosexuality. "With all the problems that we have in education these days, certainly this is a diversion, I think, away from the real issues. And that is we need to do a better job of working on student achievement," said Charlene Haar, president of the conservative Education Policy Institute.
Haar also criticized the promotion of homosexuality in That's a Family! "There certainly are all kinds of families, but not ones that we need to celebrate, nor do we need to suggest that young people emulate them," she said.
Malick, however, insisted that including That's a Family! in their resource guide was not promoting homosexuality. She said the video "might be a tool to help talk about [homosexuality]. It is not an endorsement of a particular lifestyle, by any means."
AFA President Donald E. Wildmon called that statement "verbal sleight-of-hand." He said, "The PTA is promoting a video that promotes the homosexual lifestyle. So how can the organization deny that it is also promoting homosexuality?"
Furthermore, Wildmon noted that words like "tolerance" were often used by activists as a codeword for the normalization of homosexuality. "The PTA is saying we should be tolerant of homosexuality," he said. "But why should we be? Obviously, it's because they think it's normal, natural, healthy and moral. They're telling our children that two men living together is the same thing as a mother and father living together in holy wedlock. That's promotion, pure and simple."
National PTA Headquarters
Patricia Yoxall, Dir. of Public Relations
330 N. Wabash Avenue, Suite 2100
Chicago, Illinois 60611
Phone: 1-800-307-4782 ext. 309