White House to Lead Anti-Bullying Effort; Some See Underlying Agenda as Advancement of Gay Rights

Article excerpt

Byline: Cheryl Wetzstein, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

The Obama administration is giving new meaning to bully pulpit by hosting a conference aimed at encouraging children to be nice to one another.

For a long time, bullying was treated as an unavoidable part of growing up, President Obama said in a video with first lady Michelle Obama on the Facebook site StopBullying.gov in advance of Thursday's White House Conference on Bullying Prevention.

But more and more, we're seeing how harmful it can be for our kids, especially when it follows them from their school to their phone to their computer screen, Mr. Obama said. He urged all Americans to join the growing campaign to make sure that all children can thrive.

The daylong conference, which is drawing students, educators, anti-violence advocates, academics and Obama administration officials, has widespread support. Figures from 2008 show that 25 percent of public schools reported bullying among students on a daily or weekly basis.

Bullying refers to verbal put-downs, rumormongering, ostracizing, destroying personal property, or threatening or assaulting someone. Cyberbullying refers to these actions online or via mobile technology.

Some observers are worried that the Obama administration has additional agendas, such as turning school-based misbehavior into a federal crime or portraying the bullying of gay, bisexual and transgender youths as more urgent a problem than the bullying of other children.

As Christians, we believe that no person should be subject to harassment or violence because of their sexuality, religious beliefs or any other reason, said Family Research Council President Tony Perkins. However, we are concerned that some homosexual activists are using this issue as a way to silence legitimate and respectful moral disagreement with homosexual conduct.

It is increasingly evident that 'bullying,' while one of many legitimate school safety issues, is also a political code word for advancing the political agenda of gay rights special interests, said Kenneth Trump, president of the National School Safety and Security Services in Cleveland.

In addition, he said, the Education Department is telling schools that they should start investigating bullying cases for potential violations of civil rights, a federal offense. This is a radical shift in policy, as it overrides disciplinary policies and leadership from principals and local school officials, Mr. …