- The Washington Times - Friday, June 17, 2011

U.S. Department of Agriculture activists want to impose their intense brand of homosexual sensitivity training governmentwide, including a discussion that compares “heterosexism” - believing marriage can be between only one man and one woman - to racism.

If accepted by the Obama administration, that move could mean more sessions for military service members already undergoing gay-sensitivity indoctrination. Critics fear additional gay-oriented training would add an unnecessary burden for combat troops and encourage some to leave.

USDA officials have asked the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), which oversees all federal employee policies, to impose its gay-awareness programs on all federal departments, according to an internal newsletter. The training includes a discussion of “heterosexism” and compares it to racism. It says people who view marriage as being between only one man and one woman are guilty of “heterosexism.”

The push for the training is coming from Agriculture Secretary Thomas J. Vilsack, former governor of Iowa. The Democrat has launched a departmentwide “cultural transformation” that includes a Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (LGBT) Special Emphasis Program.

The USDA’s senior training coordinator, Bill Scaggs, has developed a sensitivity program far more extensive than the Pentagon’s training for the anticipated lifting of the ban on open ho[JUMP]mosexuals in the ranks. His training program, which OPM calls “groundbreaking [and a] model for other agencies,” delves more into gay issues and terminology. It also justifies pro-homosexual political positions.

Elaine Donnelly, who heads the Center for Military Readiness and opposes the repeal of the military’s ban on acknowledged gays, said it would be a mistake for the administration of President Obama to impose the USDA sensitivity training program on the Pentagon.

“There are disturbing implications for national defense in the USDA’s development of a ‘groundbreaking’ training program that is to become a model for other federal agencies,” she told The Washington Times.

She predicted that, once the ban is lifted, “training programs similar to the USDA’s LGBT Special Emphasis Program will become a growth industry within the Department of Defense.”

“This would drive out thousands of experienced troops, starting with chaplains and people of faith who do not support LGBT ideology and activism,” she said.

Eileen Lainez, a Pentagon spokeswoman, said: “Sensitivity training has not been a tenet of previous and ongoing repeal training, nor will it enter into sustainment plans.

“The key messages for sustainment will be the same as with the training servicemembers have previously received, with emphasis on leadership, professionalism, discipline and respect.”

The Pentagon has been preparing 2.2 million active and reserve troops to deal with homosexuals serving openly in the military since Congress last year repealed the so-called “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy that required gay troops to keep their sexuality private.

The Agriculture Department described its program in an internal newsletter, My USDA: A Progress Report for Employees on USDA’s Cultural Transformation.

“Due in large part to Bill’s tireless efforts, USDA is recognized as a leader among Federal departments and agencies. Mr. Scaggs has recently started working with OPM and the Federal Executive Institute, sharing the sexual-orientation and gender-identity diversity training he developed at USDA,” the newsletter said.

“OPM has called our LGBT work ‘groundbreaking’ and expressed an interest in using it as a model for other federal agencies.”

The newsletter adds: “Future collaborations with OPM are planned, with the ultimate goal of having LGBT Special Emphasis Programs across the federal government.”

Veronica Villalobos, OPM’s director of diversity and inclusion, told The Times: “OPM strongly encourages all agencies to conduct diversity and inclusion training.

“USDA is one of the many agencies we are currently working closely with, and while OPM continues to encourage this type of training, the effort has not gone governmentwide.”

Mr. Scaggs’ briefing for USDA employees is titled “Including Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity in Diversity.”

Slides used for briefing presentations reveal topics such as “courageous conversations” and “What can I do to promote workplace diversity?”

One slide on gender identity states: “Individuals are conscious of [sexual identity] between the ages of 18 months and 3 years. Most people develop a gender identity that matches their biological sex. For some, gender identity is different from biological sex (transsexuals).”

On attempts to change someone from gay to straight, the briefing says: “Usually doesn’t work and may even be harmful. Can produce feelings of depression, hopelessness, shame and anxiety. Some people become suicidal.”

It refers to the term “down low,” noting: “Men who discreetly have sex with other men while in sexual relationships with women are said to be on the ‘down low’ (or ‘DL’ for short).”

The briefing defines “heterosexism” as an “’ism’ like sexism or racism, where one is considered better than others.” It gives as examples the ban on gays serving openly in the military and laws that define marriage as a union between one man and one woman.

Agriculture Department spokesman Justin DeJong said gay diversity training is part of an overall program to correct past systemic discrimination at USDA.

“USDA makes this training available as part of our commitment to ensuring that all constituents and employees are treated fairly and equally,” he said. “USDA has had a policy against discriminating against people based on their sexual orientation since 1993, and this was further formalized when President Clinton signed an executive order regarding sexual orientation employment nondiscrimination in 1998.”

Mr. Obama has courted the gay vote and campaigned on repealing the military’s gay ban. In office, he has decided not to defend in court the Defense of Marriage Act, which Mr. Clinton signed and which defines marriage as a union between one man and one woman.

• Rowan Scarborough can be reached at rscarborough@washingtontimes.com.

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