Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The Sexualization of Children & The Gay Agenda in Utah Schools

American Institutes for Research
The Sexualization of Children and The Gay Agenda in Utah Schools
When the Utah State School Board Committee accepted a $39 Million bid from American Institutes for Research to facilitate new computer adaptive testing for Utah school children, parents wanted to know more about them especially when an article in the S.L. Tribune raised a few red flags.
"The American Institutes of Research is a Washington D.C.-based not-for-profit. It’s the only organization already delivering statewide adaptive tests approved for use under federal education law, which requires all states to give end-of-year tests to hold schools accountable, said Martell Menlove, state deputy superintendent."

This statement made it seem that AIR had not really participated in a bidding process, but instead had the contract in hand all along. Partnerships between The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and AIR adds to suspicion as well as common views of both organizations on Social Justice and LGBT issues and their heavy push to "transition" schools into the Gates model.  Also, AIR was involved with the CCSS from the beginning and was contracted to conduct the international benchmarking. AIR’s mission statement reads, "AIR’s mission is to conduct and apply the best behavioral and social science research and evaluation towards improving peoples’ lives, with a special emphasis on the disadvantaged."

What is AIR’s social science research telling them and how would they go about improving lives?

In, Helping Families Support Their Lesbian, Gay,Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Children BY CAITLIN RYAN, Ph.D., A.C.S.W. Director, Family Acceptance Project– San Francisco State University, a brief funded by AIR a mother relates the following story:
Support Your Child’s LGBT Identity
Even When You Feel Uncomfortable
"Shondra started to get real depressed in 5th grade. She didn’t
talk much anymore, and she spent a lot of time in her room.
"When she was little, she didn’t like to wear a dress, but she
was sweet and would let me dress her up. But by the time she
was 9, she started to hate wearing dresses.
"And now, well, my momma and I didn’t know what was
wrong. I thought she was being willful and disobedient. Then
the counselor at school asked us to come in and talk with her.
She said that Shondra had another name at school. She asked
the other students to call her Darnell and she dressed like a
boy, with a boy’s name.
"The school counselor told us about transgender. We never
heard of such a thing. She thought that Shondra was
transgender and she gave us the name of another counselor.
They told us what Shondra, I mean, Darnell was feeling when
we tried to dress her up and be a certain way. They said that
for our child, the way we were acting felt like we were
rejecting her. They showed us that children like this get very
depressed, and they are at very high risk for suicide when
their family tries to make them act like a girl.
"We were shocked. We had no idea. So we got our child help
and he’s much happier now."

Not too long ago, girls fitting Shonda’s description were called tomboys and given a chance to grow up and find out who they really were before labels like "trangender" were applied and they were sent to counselors so they could learn how to deal with it.

In other story from this same brief, parents were counseled to leave their churches and find churches more accepting of their LGBT children.
Find a Supportive Faith Community for Your LGBT Child
"We live in a conservative community. Religion has always
been very important in our lives and we wanted to raise our
children in the church.
"But after we learned that our son was gay, we knew we had
to find a congregation that would welcome our son.
"A friend told us to look on the computer, so we looked for a
church that supported gay people. We found an open and
affirming church and we started a group for LGBT youth with
the youth minister at our new church. There were no services
for gay youth until we started the group. We meet at the
church and every time we meet, 50 gay youth come, and have
a place to get support, to make new friends, and to learn
about their lives."

•Other advice provided in this brief:
•Connect your child with an LGBT adult role model to show them options for the future.
•Support your child’s gender expression
•Work to make your congregation supportive of LGBT members, or find a supportive faith community that welcomes your family and LGBT child.

How old are these children?
"Adolescents in our research for the Family
Acceptance Project
TM (FAP) said they were attracted to another person of the same gender at about age 10.
Some knew they were gay at age 7 or 9. Overall, they
identified as lesbian, gay, or bisexual, on average, at
age 13.4. Their families learned about their LGB
identity about a year later."
Should seven, nine, or even 13.4 years old children be labeled LGBT?
Are these really the views of American Institutes for Research?
Near the end of the brief there is a disclaimer stating:
"The opinions expressed herein are the views of
the authors and do not reflect the official position of the U.S. DHHS, SAMHSA, CMHS. No official support or endorsement of CMHS, SAMHSA, or DHHS for the content of the practice brief is intended or should be inferred." Notice that American Institutes for Research is not part of this disclaimer.
American Institutes for Research is not included because they "collaborated" on the brief with:
"...the National Center for Cultural Competence and the National Technical Assistance Center for Children’s Mental Health of the Georgetown University Center for Child and Human Development, and the American Institutes for Research."
Read the entire brief here:
American Institutes for Research also maintains the TAP site which is Technical Assistance Partnership for Child and Family Mental Health where some of the following topics are covered:
Strengths and Silences: The Experiences of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Students in Rural and Small Town Schools
Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN) (2012)
Drawing from 8,584 students surveyed across the U.S., this report highlights the experiences of rural LGBT youth, a population often overlooked. As the report shares, 81% of rural LGBT youth felt unsafe in school. (I just want to interrupt this here and ask how many straight students always felt safe at school?) The report concludes that a greater focus on safe and inclusive learning environments is necessary, especially for rural youth.Talking About Suicide & LGBT Populations(PDF)

Movement Advancement Project; Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation; American Foundation for Suicide Prevention; Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network; Johnson Family Foundation; The Trevor Project
Shares recommendations for discussing suicide, in daily conversation and in social media, especially in light of recent news coverage of the suicides of LGBT youth, which has resulted in the potential for suicide contagion. This report also discusses the promotion of public conversations around the well-being of LGBT people, family support and acceptance, and help-seeking behavior for LGBT individuals at risk for suicide.

The Impact of Homophobia and Racism on LGBT Youth of Color
Advocates for Youth (2007) Illustrates the need for competent care to address the unique challenges experienced by LGBTQ youth of color, including economic and cultural disparities and elevated risk-taking behavior.
Tips and Strategies for Taking Steps to Cultural FairnessAdvocates for Youth (2007)Provides information to individuals who work with youth about the impact of discrimination on young people and how culturally competent, empowering programming can help address their needs and emphasize their assets. (yet another program?)

There are many other articles on the topic of LGBT children and youth put together either primarily by, or with help from American Institutes for Research. Here are a few:
How You Can Better Support LGBT Youth & Families
http://archive.brookespublishing.com/author-interviews/fisher-70823-interview.htmTrue Colors, Inc. Sexual Minority Youth and Family Services
AIR Experts Co-author Volume on Improving Emotional and Behavioral Outcomes for LGBT Youthhttp://www.air.org/focus-area/human-social-development/index.cfm?fa=viewContent&content_id=1969
D.C. Family Court Hosts Annual Interdisciplinary Conference; Focuses on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Youthhttp://www.air.org/focus-area/human-social-development/index.cfm?fa=viewContent&content_id=2140
AIR's Human and Social Development Program Releases New LGBT Section of Interagency Working Group Websitehttp://www.air.org/focus-area/human-social-development/index.cfm?fa=viewContent&content_id=1974
AIR ties to Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation:
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is pushing the adoption of Common Core with a commitment to spend $354 Million (second paragraph on page 11)
http://www.commoncoresolutions.com/PDF/education_brief.pdfThe Gates Foundation has been working with AIR since at least 2005The National Evaluation of High School Transformation is a collaborative effort between the American Institutes for Research and SRI International.
This work, which began in 2001, is supported through funding by the Bill
& Melinda Gates Foundation.
Creating Cultures for Learning: Supportive Relationships in New and
Redesigned High Schools
is part of an ongoing series of reports based on the evaluation of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s high school

Why is this troubling?
1. American Institutes for Research refers to LGBT "CHILDREN & Youth and so AIR is an organization that believes not only in the sexualization of children, but in labeling and counseling those children at a very young age.

2. AIR has been hired to conduct computer adaptive testing for Utah students, but concerned parents have never been able to find out from either School Board Members OR the State Board who would be writing the questions and who would be reviewing the questions. Will parents be able to have control over written questions? Will parents have any control over data collected by AIR?

3. Taking into consideration AIR’s position on churches opposed to homosexuality, is AIR really a great fit in a largely conservative religious state like Utah?

4. AIR also has an unfavorable opinion of rural communities of which Utah has many.

5. AIR values and attitudes concern parents who don’t want education to be about sexuality. Utah parents are already concerned about the amount of time students spend in assemblies learning how to brush their teeth, escape a fire, say no to drugs, say no to pornography, say no to bullying, watching films unrelated to core subjects, CTE classes, maturation programs and sex education, doing busy work, taking standardized tests, attending silly assemblies and generally goofing around. Students spend so much time in these activities when many are struggling in basic subjects like math and reading.

6. Some parents wonder if AIR in fact did go through a fair and reasonable bidding process or if since, "It’s the only organization already delivering statewide adaptive tests approved for use under federal education law, which requires all states to give end-of-year tests to hold schools accountable," awarding AIR the Utah contract was a forgone conclusion. This concern is even more troubling when we know that AIR was involved in the CCSS from the beginning. AIR was the organization that conducted the International Benchmarking, "Using a series of state, national, and international tests, researchers at the American Institutes for Research (AIR) benchmarked state performance standards to international standards.6"
6 Phillips, Gary W. (2010). "International benchmarking: State education performance standards." American Institutes for Research. View online here: http://www.air.org/files/AIR_Int_ Benchmarking_State_Ed__Perf_Standards.pdf.

7. Neither the Gates Foundation nor AIR represent the values of many, many Utah parents. In a recent blog post Cherilyn Eager wrote, "Parents scratch their heads when their kids grow up to be agnostic – or even atheistic – after they raised them in a religious home, wondering how this could have happened. Republican elected officials who vote for these liberal, agnostic, socialist education policies (after receiving campaign funding from these corporations) wonder why their voters are dwindling and, according to a Gallup Poll, those with socialist leanings are now around 36% of the electorate.

When all is considered, why are we allowing these groups to influence Utah students?


Alicia said...

We need to protect the "formative years" and stop labeling all together. We are too quick to label. One of the things that scares me the most about taking Timmy to therapy prematurely, without giving him a chance at all, is that he will be labeled as being on the autism spectrum before his 2nd birthday and that label will follow him all through school. Our pediatrician wanted him to start therapy at 12 months! Thankfully, I got a 2nd opinion of a pediatric specialist whose exact words were: "Give Timmy a chance!" We need to give our children a chance to show us who they really are before we impose our own labels on them.

Anissa said...

We do need to quit labeling our children. We need to get back to basics. Our kids are losing the ability to truly dream, imagine, and be creative. I wish our kids could run and play and figure things out like we did.

We also need to quit tracking every darn thing they do!

Claire Edwards Grover said...

Love it. Let's create a safe place for our kids to learn, and even learn by failing! This whole common core thing scares me more and more.

dcarman said...

This is a great post, Tiffany, and I think that many parents would want to know about AIR's focused interest in LGBTQI-2 youth - and labeling them as such at a very young age. One of the papers AIR collaborated on specifies that they help organizations to create youth groups for LGBT youth. This is supposed to be a contract for educational testing - why are we hiring the company that wants to set up gay and lesbian clubs in school?

Also, we got an answer to your second point at the bottom of the article - John Jesse, Director of Assessments for the USOE told us that AIR will definitely be writing at least some of the test questions. He didn't say how many. Boy, I would really like to get a look at that contract!