Some parents of an Illinois public high school have accused it of promoting a homosexual agenda during a mandatory freshman orientation class that includes gay students talking about their own experiences.
In classrooms this week, panel sessions at Deerfield High School geared toward helping students adjust to high school will include speakers from a school club, Straight and Gay Alliance, who will openly talk about topics such as being bullied for being gay and being a friend of a homosexual person.
The class is mandatory, but parents can choose to remove their child on days the lessons concern them, school officials said. Some parents are pulling their children out of the program, The Chicago Tribune reported.
The newspaper reported that many parents are upset over the homosexuality discussion, saying it denounces religions that believe homosexual relations to be wrong or immoral.
Parent Lora Sue Hauser, who heads a group called North Shore Student Advocacy, wants the panel discontinued, saying sexuality issues are better addressed by parents and trained counselors. She said the panel is one of several ways that Deerfield High and other schools treat homosexuality as morally acceptable without presenting the viewpoints of those who disagree.
"The school makes heterosexuality and homosexuality equivalent, and our country is deeply divided on that," Hauser told the Tribune.
She said dozens of parents belong to the advocacy group but fear they will be labeled as haters or religious fanatics if they speak out.
"You can't dump that on a 14-year-old," Hauser said. "These are really difficult waters to navigate."
The Chicago Tribune reported that the school sees the panel as a way to ease the transition into high school. The topic of homosexuality is only one of many subjects covered in the orientation; others include study habits, and becoming getting familiar with the school and its resources.