Harmonization: Unlikely Alliance Takes on School Conflict

2006-03-10

Richard Moore

     The accord comes from the very people who are typically the
     ones fighting - conservative Christians, who decry
     homosexuality as a sinful choice, and gay and lesbian
     leaders, who say many students are bullied at school just
     for being themselves.

--------------------------------------------------------
From: Larry Tesler
To: •••@••.•••
Subject: Yahoo! News Story - Unlikely Alliance Takes on
               School Conflict - Yahoo! News

It can happen in the most unexpected places.

Unlikely Alliance Takes on School Conflict - Yahoo! News

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http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20060310/ap_on_re_us/schools_gay_conflicts

Unlikely Alliance Takes on School Conflict
By BEN FELLER, AP Education Writer
Thu Mar 9, 7:20 PM ET


As public schools cope with conflicts over homosexuality,
they can now get some tips from an unlikely pair:
conservative Christians and gay advocates.

Leaders of those groups have agreed on guidelines for how
educators, parents and teachers should deal with any aspect
of school life involving sexual orientation.

Unveiled on Thursday, the guidance is meant to be a First
Amendment framework for finding common ground - essentially,
a way to get people talking instead of screaming at each
other.

It comes as controversies over homosexuality and
Christianity have roiled schools nationwide, whether the
matter is a textbook, a course assignment or a student club.

Schools are encouraged to form a task force of people with
divergent views, agree on ground rules for civil debate,
understand the First Amendment and state law, keep parents
informed, and ensure kids don't go to school in fear.

Still, leaders hailed the deal as a breakthrough, saying the
lack of such basic civility is often what leaves community
members feeling angry, shut out and ready to fight.

The accord comes from the very people who are typically the
ones fighting - conservative Christians, who decry
homosexuality as a sinful choice, and gay and lesbian
leaders, who say many students are bullied at school just
for being themselves.

"This is not about compromising convictions," said Charles
Haynes, senior scholar at the First Amendment Center, which
helped broker the deal. "This is about finding ways to work
and live together as American citizens."

Groups at polar ends of the same-sex debate - the Christian
Educators Association International and the Gay, Lesbian and
Straight Education Network - helped write the guidelines.
They will promote them to the hundreds of thousands of
people they represent.

The superintendents who run the nation's schools have also
endorsed the guidance, as has a prominent group of teachers
and curriculum specialists.

Finn Laursen, executive director of the Christian
association, said his members are not straying from their
beliefs in Biblical principles and "one man, one woman"
relationships. Rather, he said, the point is to make sure
those views are included in school decisions.

"It's proactive. It doesn't approach the natural conflict
that's going to be there after the bomb explodes," Laursen
said.

Fair and reasoned debate rarely seems to happen when
homosexuality becomes the issue of debate, said Kevin
Jennings, executive of the advocacy network for gay
students. The guidance could change that, he said, becomes
it comes from those who lead the debate and run the schools.

___


On The Net:
Christian Educators Association International: http://www.ceai.org
Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network: http://www.glsen.org
First Amendment Center: http://www.firstamendmentcenter.org


Copyright © 2006 The Associated Press.
Copyright © 2006 Yahoo! Inc.
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