Fox News is claiming that a middle school’s attempt at teaching their students about anti-bullying failed because they were allegedly forcing girls to do lesbian role-playing and making boys carry around condoms.
Linden Avenue Middle School in Red Hook, New York, had instructors come in from Bard College to hold workshops teaching kids how to say no to unwanted advances and how to handle bullying. A 14-year-old student went back home and told her mom that she was “weirded” out because she was taught terms like “genderqueer” and had to request a kiss from another girl in a group activity.
Fox News quickly covered the story, getting some information wrong and calling Bard students “idiots.” The news report claimed that the workshops were meant to “brainwash students on liberal political views and that they were perverts who probably just wanted to see teenagers kiss.”
Organizers maintain this was inaccurate. The workshops were split between two rooms, one for the boys and one for the girls. Instructors, not Bard students as Fox News claims, performed the workshops, and had the kids act out scenarios to practice how to get out of negative situations
In the scenarios they weren’t making female students act out lesbian situations. They were merely showing them how to say no and encouraging them to do so regarding early sexual activity. No one came close to kissing.
In a press release Linden expressed what a positive response they have been receiving:
During the week of April 9, eighth grade communication sessions were held at Linden Avenue Middle School. These sessions were designed by building leadership and the guidance department. The goals of these sessions were to encourage students to treat one another (and all marginalized groups) with more respect as well as to further develop an appreciation for personal dignity. In response to parental concerns about these sessions Dr. Zahedi, the middle school principal, held an evening informational forum on April 16. This session was well attended and the subsequent feedback has been positive. In addition, the Board of Education and Superintendent of Schools, Paul Finch, addressed the community at the April 24 board meeting on the topic of these sessions. Here again, feedback from the community and students was overwhelmingly positive.
Zahedi also posted on his Facebook, placing emphasis on the fact that the point of the workshops were not about pretending to be gay, but about acceptance.
When Fox News reporters asked the Bard students about the workshop, all of them were offended that the reporters called them idiots. Other students found the Fox segment comical because they couldn’t get their facts straight and said the reporters completely over analyzed and dramatized the situation.