Coalition for Safer Schools of NYS, PO Box 2345, Malta, NY 12020
John Myers, Director of Operations and Programs
Email to: [email protected]
The Real or Perceived Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgendered Student Protection Project
Education Secretary Paige Under Fire from Gay Group for Comments on Religion and Education
To: National Desk, Education Reporter
Contact: Chadwick Bovee of GLSEN, 212-727-0135 ext. 105,
NEW YORK, April 9 /U.S. Newswire/ -- The Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, or GLSEN, today demanded clarification from U.S. Secretary of Education Rod Paige of his comments, published on Monday, suggesting that America's public schools should incorporate Christian values. Secretary Paige's statements appeared in an article entitled, ''Rod Paige: America's Education Evangelist'' in the Baptist Press, the news service of the Southern Baptist Convention.
Secretary Paige's comments appear not only in direct conflict with core American principals separating church and state, but are offensive to the administrators, educators and students of diverse religious faiths who fill America's public schools.
''The language of religious values -- particularly 'Christian values' -- has often been misused to isolate or denigrate lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people,'' said Kevin Jennings, GLSEN's executive director. ''For Secretary Paige to suggest that the tenets of any particular religion have a place in public education is an exceedingly dangerous breach of the Constitutional separation of church and state, and of tremendous concern for safe schools advocates who seek to protect LGBT students and staff from harassment, violence and discrimination in schools.''
In the article, Secretary Paige asserted that Christian schools and Christian universities are growing as a result of a ''strong value system'' that is lacking in public schools where ''there are so many kids with different kinds of values.'' He offered his prayers to those who disagree with his position that religion has a place in public schools in the United States.
Bob Chase, past president of the National Education Association, or NEA, and a member of GLSEN's Board of Directors, expressed deep concern, noting, ''Secretary Paige's statement is irresponsible and exhibits insensitivity. As the highest Education official in this nation, he must learn to see diversity as an incredibly rich resource for thought and ideas. The values of hard work, respect and responsibility, values taught every day in America's public schools, transcend any singular set of religious beliefs.''
Anti-LGBT violence and harassment are all too common in America's schools. GLSEN's 2001 National School Climate Survey found that 4 out of 5 LGBT students report verbal, sexual or physical harassment at school and 30 percent report missing at least a day of school in the past month out of fear for their personal safety.
GLSEN, or the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, is the leading national education organization focused on creating safe schools for all lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students. Established nationally in 1995, GLSEN envisions a world in which every child learns to respect and accept all people, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression. For more information on GLSEN's educator resources, public policy agenda, student organizing programs or development initiatives, visit http://www.glsen.org.
This message has been distributed as a free informational service for the expressed interest of non-profit research and educational purposes only.
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Last updated 4/10/2003 by Jean Richter, [email protected]