JANESVILLE, Wis. – A school district in southern Wisconsin has publicly apologized for a highly controversial film promoted to students that endorses same-sex marriage while disparaging those who disagree.
Last month, students at Craig High School were shown the short video Kids React to Gay Marriage. Controversial statements in the film include calling those who do not approve of same-sex marriage “outrageous” and “insane.”
The video was selected by the school’s Gay/Straight Alliance and approved by both the club’s advisers and Craig High Principal Dr. Alison Bjoin to be shown as part of the Day of Silence observance on April 11. The Day of Silence is an effort to call attention to harassment and discrimination supposedly faced by LGBT high school students.
Several families with children at the school felt that the video didn’t have anything to do with bullying and brought the matter to the attention of the public.
“I felt it was very misleading and I felt it was propaganda,” said Jo Yungerman, the grandmother of a Craig High freshman.
Tom Yungerman said that his son left the room when the video began playing.
“He was basically horrified by it,” Youngerman stated, who said he teaches his sons about biblical marriage.
“What’s disappointing to me is that in the name of tolerance, students were forced to watch a video that clearly promoted one side.” said Philip Alexander, president of Solid Reasons, a Wisconsin-based ministry that has worked in the Janesvillle area. “What about tolerance for those that advocate for marriage between one man and one woman?”
“If the school wanted an open discussion on the subject, then why wouldn’t they have allowed a Christian to present the many powerful arguments that support the biblical position of marriage?” he asked.
As a result of the outrage, the district has now apologized, saying that the video shouldn’t have been shown to students without an opposing viewpoint also being presented.
“Once I viewed the video, I felt like it was biased to one side,” said Dr. Karen Schulte, superintendent of the Janesville School District, who issued a letter condemning the presentation and apologizing for what took place.
Dr. Schulte went on to call the showing of the video a “violation specifically of our policy on controversial issues and the policy on political activities,” which requires that students are presented with relevant information in a manner where they can carefully examine all sides of an issue.
“It broke policies,” agreed Janesville School Board member Bill Sodemann, who was also upset by the video. “We have a policy against political activity in schools. We have a policy regarding controversial issues.”
Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), a national Christian legal organization, applauded the apology in a written letter to the school district.
“Student indoctrination is inappropriate, especially on an issue as important as marriage. Students and parents deserve better,” stated ADF Senior Legal Counsel Jeremy Tedesco. “The district recognized its mistake and deserves to be commended.”