HRC Denounces Secretary of Education's Intolerance

'The Secretary's First Act in Office Denies Children an Education About the

Diversity of American Families,' Said HRC Political

Director Winnie Stachelberg

Jan 26, 2005, 00:00 ET from Human Rights Campaign

    WASHINGTON, Jan. 26 /PRNewswire/ -- The Human Rights Campaign denounces
 the intolerance that Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings demonstrated by
 pulling funding from a cartoon show promoting understanding.
     "The Secretary's first act in office denies children an education about
 the diversity of American families," said HRC Political Director Winnie
 Stachelberg. "Teaching children about respect for differences promotes
 tolerance of their fellow human beings. Those are the values our children
 should be learning. Instead, Secretary Spellings is sending the message that
 differences should concealed. This creates a dangerous environment for
 children's growth. Gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender youth are
 disproportionately at risk for suicide. Creating a climate in which children
 are taught that differences should be feared does nothing to promote
 understanding for peers."
     According to an Associated Press article, PBS has decided to pull the
 episode of "Postcards from Buster" from distribution. The episode,
 "Sugartime!," features the animated bunny Buster on a trip in Vermont and
 focuses on farm living and maple sugaring. One scene depicts two lesbian
 couples. The program receives funding through federal Ready-to-Learn programs.
     In a letter to PBS, Secretary Spellings wrote, "Congress' and the
 Department's purpose in funding this programming certainly was not to
 introduce this kind of subject matter to children, particularly through the
 powerful and intimate medium of television." The secretary asked for a refund
 "in the interest of avoiding embroiling the Ready-to-Learn program in a
 controversy that will only hurt" it. A Department spokesperson said that PBS
 has been awarded almost $100 million over the past five years in a contract
 that expires in September.
     "The 'subject matter' is innocuous, but the Secretary's implication that
 teaching children about the reality of American life is cause for fear is
 harmful," added Stachelberg. "Same-sex couples are raising children in almost
 every county in the nation. These families deserve just as much dignity and
 respect as their neighbors, and the children of America shouldn't be denied
 the reality of our lives."
     The nation's leading child welfare, psychological and children's health
 organizations have issued policy or position statements declaring that a
 parent's sexual orientation is irrelevant to his or her ability to raise a
 child. These organizations include the: American Academy of Pediatrics,
 American Medical Association, American Psychiatric Association, Child Welfare
 League of America and North American Council on Adoptable Children.
     The Human Rights Campaign is the largest national lesbian, gay, bisexual
 and transgender political organization with members throughout the country. It
 effectively lobbies Congress, provides campaign support and educates the
 public to ensure that LGBT Americans can be open, honest and safe at home, at
 work and in the community.

SOURCE Human Rights Campaign