(Updated with info from Truth Wins Out) For several years, the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles has used music to share with high school students the importance of fairness and equality through their educational anti-bullying Alive Music Project. Now Executive Director Thom Lynch has announced a new collaboration with the It Gets Better Project and Speak Theater Arts to create a nationwide tour of a musical theater piece called “It Gets Better.” “We’re proud to be continuing in the mission to make our children safe,” says Lynch.
A 6-member core group will collaborate with local performers and educational and governmental institutions to focus on bullying in local schools. “This show isn’t about going to towns and telling everybody it gets better,” says director Liesel Reinhart. “It’s about looking people in the eye, in each local community, and saying why isn’t it better now? What can we do to make it better right now?”
UPDATE: The Gay Men’s Chorus replaced their earlier draft version of the video after the It Gets Better Project noted that the young man seen in the beginning was in fact not part of the project. The newer version also contains updated information. Here’s the updated video:
Contrast the messages the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles and the It Gets Better Project are trying to send to youth with this message from antigay Christian rocker Bradlee Dean at an assembly at a Dunkerton, Iowa high school. Dean has his own movement and a documentary entitled “My War,” the message of which he intends to take to “over 330 high schools around the country, talking about social and cultural issues. We got to see first-hand the type of programs and education that our youth receive related to the situations they face.”
Truth Wins Out just issued a press release saying they are “outraged” by this incident:
Band Member Told Students That Gays Die At Age 42, Says TWO
Truth Wins Out expressed outrage today that a fundamentalist rock band known for preaching offensive hate messages was allowed to spew its misinformation at a Dunkerton High School assembly. While on-stage a Junkyard Prophet band member said, “Homosexuals died at the age of 42.” Bradlee Dean, a Minnesota radio talk show host who had been praised by Rep. Michele Bachmann, leads the rock band.
According to reports, “students and teachers at an Iowa high school say they were blindsided when a traveling band slammed them with anti-gay, anti-abortion and other extremist views during what was billed as an assembly about bullying.”
“We are outraged that students were subjected to such a disgusting, hate-filled message that clearly violated the separation of church and state,” said Truth Wins Out’s Executive Director Wayne Besen. “School administrators have to do their homework to ensure they are aren’t booking extremists with sectarian agendas.”
In fact, Truth Wins Out’s “Center Against Radical Extremism” warned in April 2010 that Dean boasted to a panel at the Awakening conference in Lynchburg, VA, “We’ve been to 330 schools and only two asked us to leave.” Upon hearing this, Vision America’s Rick Scarborough cheered Dean and declared, “We need more special forces like yourself,” and then spoke of the importance in engaging in “guerilla warfare.”
Superintendent Jim Stanton responded to the community’s fury by saying that Junkyard Prophet offered “a very strong anti-violence, anti-drug, anti-alcohol” message. He added that the presenters shared “an opinion about intolerance that’s not in line with the beliefs of the Dunkerton Community Schools. We promote tolerance for one another. We will continue to celebrate diversity in our student body.”
While Stanton’s words are welcome, it is baffling that the band was reportedly allowed to perform and remain on campus for three hours, causing many students to break down in tears. Many in the community are calling on Stanton to resign, while some reports says he was already considering stepping down.
“We are profoundly disgusted that Junkyard Prophet was allowed to perform, and even more disturbed that school officials did not pull out the hook and yank these fanatics off of the stage,” said TWO’s Besen. “It is crucial that schools understand that religious zealots are actively searching for ways to infiltrate classrooms to indoctrinate youth with extremist messages. It is the responsibility of school administrators to stop the attacks on students as soon as they recognize that they are occurring. In this case, the school badly failed at the expense of the students’ mental health.”
Dean is also the founder of the Minnesota Christian organization You Can Run But You Cannot Hide, which the Southern Poverty Law Center has listed as an official hate group. Dean has called LGBT people predators and child molesters and caused a brouhaha when he gave the opening prayer in the Minnesota State House.
LGBT people were not the band’s only targets while at the event. Junkyard Prophet attacked Lady Gaga, Elton John, and women.
“They told my daughter, the girls, that they were going to have mud on their wedding dresses if they weren’t virgins,” one mother of a Dunkerton High School junior, told the Lacrosse Tribune. The girls were told to assume a submissive role in their household and remain “pure” until marriage, students said. The boys said they were shown images of musicians who died of drug overdoses and images of aborted fetuses. The Tribune reported that the school district is working to get back the $1,500 fee they paid Junkyard Prophet for the school event.
“Very rarely do such hate organizations stick to attacking one group or minority,” added TWO’s Communications Director John Becker. “They usually have a wide array of targets they dislike and aren’t shy about denigrating a number of people.”
It appears that the band’s assertion that gay men die at age 42 comes from the disgraced researcher Paul Cameron of the Family Research Institute, who was permanently expelled from the American Psychological Association and the Nebraska Psychological Association for peddling falsehoods about LGBT people.
Truth Wins Out is a nonprofit organization that fights anti-LGBT extremism. TWO specializes in turning information into action by organizing, advocating and fighting for LGBT equality.
Please e-mail superintendent Jim Stanton at express your disgust that a hate group was allowed to speak: firstname.lastname@example.org