Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network - "Teachout 2000" Taping Incident

"Teachout 2000" Taping Incident

In April 2000, Massachusetts' Board of Education adopted a gay and lesbian civil rights protection "safety measure" approved by Governor William Weld in 1993 requiring schools to extend civil rights and "assist in the formation of Gay/Straight Alliance student groups." A month prior "Teachout 2000", the annual GLSEN state conference, was held at Tufts University where the leader of a conservative group illegally taped one of the fifty workshops where students aged fourteen to twenty-one graphically discussed sex in a workshop "billed as a 'safe place' for youths to get their questions about their sexuality answered" in the session's Q&A (questions and answers) section. Although the conference was privately funded, the workshop itself facilitated by Department of Education staffers rather than GLSEN, and no evidence that GLSEN encouraged frank discussion beyond age-appropriate information; the conservative group held a public rally conflating GLSEN's involvement and calling for ending all state funding for "homosexual programs" and disbanding the Governor's Commission on Gay and Lesbian Youth. The group broadcast parts of the illegally taped workshop on a local talk-radio program and offered to sell copies of it for which a restraining order to desist was issued. It is illegal in Massachusetts to "record someone without their permission," the order barred the critics from releasing tape or any transcript but they did so anyway. GLSEN later stated they needed to make "expectations and guidelines to outside facilitators much more clear". The chairman of the Massachusetts Governor's Commission on Gay and Lesbian Youth, which provided state funding for Safe Schools program defended GLSEN's work in the state's schools, stating "A tiny minority of opponents of the program are grasping at straws to discredit the program."

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