- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 25, 2013

Parents in New York state are outraged after an anti-bullying presentation for teenage girls at Linden Avenue Middle School in Red Hook required students to role-play a lesbian relationship.

The workshop, meant for 13- to 14-year-old girls, focused on homosexuality and gender identity, CBN News reports. Parents say their daughters were told to ask one another for a kiss, and they say two girls were told to stand in front of the class and pretend they were on a date.

“She told me, ‘Mom we all get teased and picked on enough. Now I’m going to be called a lesbian because I had to ask another girl if I could kiss her,’” parent Mandy Coon said, adding that she was not notified beforehand or given an option to opt her daughter out of the presentation.

Superintendent Paul Finch told The Poughkeepsie Journal that the exercise was “focused on improving culture, relationships, communication and self-perceptions.”

“We may require more notification to parents in the future,” he said, adding that the workshop is required under the New York Dignity for All Students Act, which targets bullying, CBN News reports.

The Red Hook Central School District posted clarifications on its website, saying that “contrary to a few media reports, female students were not forced to engage in any lesbian kissing.”

Mr. Finch sent an email to Fox News’ Todd Starnes, stating that the sessions “were designed by the building leadership in an effort to have eighth graders treat each other with respect and to develop in our young adolescents an appreciation for personal dignity.”

He called it “absurd” to suggest the school would want to promote sexual activity among teenagers.

“It is my understanding that the role playing activity is part of a program supported by conservatives such as Laura Bush,” he added.

Mr. Finch also clarified that the definitions of the words “pansexual” and “genderqueer” were “overly granular” when explained to the students and that the school district will make efforts to clarify those meanings.

“[The definitions] were put forth to make sure that students understand that all gender identities and/or sexual orientations are protected in law in New York State as part of an effort to curb harassment, discrimination, and bullying,” he wrote.

• Jessica Chasmar can be reached at jchasmar@washingtontimes.com.

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