Connect with us

Anti-Gay Lawmakers Revive ‘Witch Hunt’ Against LGBTQ Youth Conference

Published

on

Allegations From Bob Vander Plaats’ Anti-Gay Group, The Family Leader, Sparked Legislative Inquiry

Iowa lawmakers are moving forward with an investigation into a statewide LGBTQ youth conference, in response to allegations from an anti-gay group that last year’s event included sexually explicit content. 

GOP Rep. Bobby Kaufmann, who chairs the House Government Oversight Committee, last week appointed two members of the panel, one Republican and one Democrat, to investigate the annual Governor’s Conference on LGBTQ Youth, now in its 11th year. The Republican appointed by Kaufmann to investigate the conference is Rep. Greg Heartsill, who serves as vice chair of the oversight committee and has led a hateful legislative crusade against the conference in recent years. 

Organized by the nonprofit advocacy group Iowa Safe Schools, the educational conference is the largest of its kind in the nation, drawing more than 1,000 students, parents and teachers from across the Midwest to address issues like bullying, homelessness, suicide and sexual health among LGBT youth and teens. 

Posted by Iowa Safe Schools on Monday, April 20, 2015

Although the conference doesn’t directly receive any taxpayer funds, it has come under fire from some GOP lawmakers as well as the The Family Leader, the Iowa anti-LGBT group led by Bob Vander Plaats, which sent an undercover operative to the event last year. 

RELATED: Top Anti-Gay Activist Demands Schools Teach Gays They Can Never Have Sex

“There were only two sessions [among more than 20] that had anything to do with bullying,” the Family Leader’s anonymous spy later alleged in a rather salacious report. “It’s a conference teaching kids how to be confidently homosexual, how to pleasure their gay partners — one session even taught transsexual girls how to sew fake testicles into their underwear in order to pass themselves off as boys.”

The operative’s report went on to quote a father, also anonymous, who said his daughter left the conference early because she was “absolutely distraught.” 

“It was crude. One presenter told students who asked whether anal sex hurt that, as a lesbian, it really depended on how big the device is that their partner straps on,” the father said. “My daughter went to listen to the comedian, Sam Killermann, thinking it would at least be funny. But instead, Killermann explained how pleasurable it is for gay couples to eat each other’s behinds and how to use different flavors of [oils] to make it taste better.” 

Conference participants flatly denied the undercover operative’s allegations. Kerri Barnhouse, adviser for the Gay Straight Alliance at West High School in Iowa City, said the Family Leader “twisted and manipulated” the conference, while students who attended launched a letter-writing campaign to Vander Plaats.

RELATED: Anti-Gay Iowa Republican Partners With Anti-Gay Christian Group To Bully Anti-Bullying LGBTQ Group

Nate Monson, executive director of Iowa Safe Schools, suggested that people like Vander Plaats, Kauffman and Heartsill are waging “a witch hunt” aimed at shutting down the event. 

“I have no words to describe the violation of civil liberties – and common human decency — it is to listen into the conversations of young people in settings where parents and youth are encouraged to have an open dialogue about tough issues,” Monson wrote, adding that the “campaign of pure hate” has led to Iowa Safe Schools representatives being called “child-molesting enablers, fags, dykes, queers, and homos.”

“If a supposedly responsible adult can unleash untruths and distort an event like our conference in such a way as to garner such hateful reaction directed at the LGBTQ community, can you imagine what our youth face when bullies hear those same messages?” Monson added.  

Posted by Iowa Safe Schools on Friday, March 20, 2015

Despite his fringe views, Vander Plaats enjoys considerable influence among the state’s Republicans, marked by his power player status in Iowa’s GOP presidential caucus, in which he’s endorsed Sen. Ted Cruz this year.

In response to the undercover operative’s report, Heartsill sent a letter to school superintendents — which Monson described as “creepy” — asking how many people from their districts attended the conference and whether they covered any of the costs, including transportation. Then, Kauffman scheduled a legislative hearing on the conference for October, but later postponed it before reviving the investigation last week. 

Heartsill also introduced an unsuccessful amendment last year that would have required students to obtain parental consent before attending the conference. During debate on the amendment on the House floor, Heartsill infamously acknowledged that he didn’t even know what “LGBTQ” stood for.

Monson told The New Civil Rights Movement that the other lawmaker appointed by Kaufmann to investigate the conference, Democratic Rep. Phyllis Thede, has been a strong advocate for safe schools. However, Monson said he believes Heartsill will attempt to use the investigation to leverage support for a similar amendment this year. 

“He’s going to use this spot to bully and harass Iowa Safe Schools to try and get that passed in addition to stopping kids from coming this year by distorting the event,” Monson said. “Most of our attendees are rural kids who come with teachers and their parents. Every year these youth get to meet a major figure in our community. … Homeless youth from one of our shelters come annually and for those kids rejected by their families to know everything is OK, that’s why we do this. Heartsill has no shame in wanting to hurt our most vulnerable youth.” 

This year’s conference is set for April 29 in Des Moines. To support the conference, which is funded entirely by donations, go here. 

 

Images via Iowa Safe Schools/Facebook

Continue Reading
Click to comment
 
 

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. The New Civil Rights Movement depends on readers like you to meet our ongoing expenses and continue producing quality progressive journalism. Three Silicon Valley giants consume 70 percent of all online advertising dollars, so we need your help to continue doing what we do.

NCRM is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. From unflinching coverage of religious extremism, to spotlighting efforts to roll back our rights, NCRM continues to speak truth to power. America needs independent voices like NCRM to be sure no one is forgotten.

Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure NCRM remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to NCRM, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.

SEDITION

Bombshell WSJ Report: Trump Pressured DOJ Attorneys to Sue States in the Supreme Court to Overturn Election

Published

on

President Donald Trump pressured U.S. Department of Justice attorneys, possibly including former Attorney General Bill Barr, to file a lawsuit against four U.S. states in the U.S. Supreme Court, in one of his final attempts to overturn the election before leaving office.

The Wall Street Journal reports late Saturday night that effort “failed due to pushback from his own appointees in the Justice Department, who refused to file what they viewed as a legally baseless lawsuit in the Supreme Court.”

The Journal also confirms Friday night’s New York Times reporting that Trump attempted to remove his own acting Attorney General, Jeffrey Rosen, after Barr left the DOJ just two days before Christmas.

According to the Journal, “senior department officials threatened to resign en masse should Mr. Trump fire then-acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen, according to several people familiar with the discussions.”

“Senior department officials, including Mr. Rosen, former Attorney General William Barr and former acting Solicitor General Jeffrey Wall refused to file the Supreme Court case, concluding that there was no basis to challenge the election outcome and that the federal government had no legal interest in whether Mr. Trump or Mr. Biden won the presidency,” the paper adds.

The paper does not specify the exact timeframe of when Trump tried to force DOJ to file the lawsuit, but based on its report it had to have been after December 11, when the Supreme Court dismissed what most election law attorneys considered a frivolous suit filed by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, along with other Republican state attorneys general.

This is a breaking news and developing story. 

Continue Reading

'DANGEROUS FOOLS'

GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy Says “Everyone” Is to Blame for Capitol Riots

Published

on

While Republican House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California has previously said that he thinks former President Donald Trump bears some responsibility for the January 6 coup attempt in which his supporters ransacked the Capitol to overturn the election that he and Republicans baselessly claimed was stolen, McCarthy added in a Thursday interview, “I also think everybody across this country has some responsibility [for the coup attempt.]”

McCarthy then said that anti-Trump Democrats, rude social media users, unprepared law enforcement authorities were all responsible too, even though Trump literally told his followers on the morning of January 6 to march to the Capitol and fight to stop legislators from approving the election victory of now-President Joe Biden. 

“I think this is what we have to get to the bottom of, and when you start talking about who has responsibilities,” McCarthy said. “I think there’s going to be a lot more questions, a lot more answers we have to have in the coming future.”

It’s especially telling that his Senate counterpart, now-Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has directly blamed Trump for the riots.

“The mob was fed lies,” McConnell said Wednesday. “They were provoked by the president and other powerful people, and they tried to use fear and violence to stop a specific proceeding of the first branch of the federal government which they did not like.” 

After months of making baseless claims that a national conspiracy of widespread voter fraud stole the election from him, a claim laughed out of courts 60 times over for lack of evidence by judges that Trump himself appointed, Trump held a “Stop the Steal” rally on the morning of January 6 in which he said, that he won the election “by a landslide” and encouraged his followers to “stop the steal” by going to the Capitol. If people don’t “fight like hell,” Trump said, “you’re not going to have a country anymore.”

Continue Reading

'ETHICS PROGRAM HAS BEEN RAZED TO THE GROUND'

Russia Explodes with Protests Against Putin Poisoning and Jailing His Biggest Opponent

Published

on

Russian citizens in 38 cities are protesting the country’s sham elections in which Russian President Vladimir Putin has felt so threatened by the opposition candidate, anti-corruption activist Alexei Navalny, that he has had him imprisoned and poisoned in an attempt to silence his voice and kill his movement.

The Russian presidential elections are a complete sham used to legitimate Putin’s power. In the last election, Putin “won” nearly 77 percent of the vote amid claims of ballot stuffing, the Kremlin choosing which candidates get to run, police arresting any anti-Putin protesters and pro-Putin candidates receiving far more financial backing than his opponents.

Navalny himself, a popular anti-corruption campaigner who is one of Putin’s most outspoken critics, according to The Week, has previously been barred from running due to a trumped-up and controversial fraud conviction allegedly masterminded by Putin. In August 2020, Navalny was poisoned with a nerve agent called Novichok and survived his hospitalization. Navalny has said he got a Russian federal agent to reveal how he was poisoned, though the Kremlin has denied any involvement.

Three days ago, Navalny was jailed once more for allegedly violating his parole. He now inhabits Matrosskaya Tishina or Sailor’s Silence, a jail in Moscow’s north-east region that has housed high-ranking prisoners that authorities have wanted to cut off from the outside world since the Soviet era, according to Reuters. The jail is notoriously deadly.

Russian citizens across the nation have seemingly had enough and have begun protesting his imprisonment, as the videos below attest. Hundreds have been arrested as police fight to maintain control.

The U.S. Embassy in Russia has weighed in by saying, “We’re watching reports of protests in 38 Russian cities, arrests of 350+ peaceful protesters and journalists. The U.S. supports the right of all people to peaceful protest, freedom of expression. Steps being taken by Russian authorities are suppressing those rights.”

Continue Reading

Trending

Copyright © 2020 AlterNet Media.