From the La Crosse Tribune, La Crosse, Wisconsin, March 21:
In 2004, about 400 people signed a petition asking that speakers on gay, lesbian and transgender issues not be included in [Viroqua High School's] Diversity Day. The school board cancelled the event, but it was reinstated after spring elections changed the board’s makeup.
Let’s be clear: The petitioners in 2004 were asking that Diversity Day be less diverse. They were insisting that a pro-tolerance event be intolerant.
That battle partially succeeded. Two years later, antigay activists tried a new tactic: Instead of weakening a pro-tolerance event by silencing others, they sought to weaken the event by adding voices presumed to be intolerant.
Once again, Diversity Day has been cancelled — this time because of a complaint by the Liberty Counsel.
Scheduled speakers included Hmong, Jewish, Muslim, American Indian, African American, Latino, Buddhist, gay, physically disadvantaged and economically disadvantaged people.
But it was called off late last week after a legal group raised a potential challenge to include a formerly gay or Christian viewpoint.
The Legal Counsel faxed a letter to the school district on March 8.
The fax pointed out a federal court in Michigan had ruled unconstitutional a similar exclusion at Ann Arbor Public Schools event.
“By excluding the Christian and ex-gay viewpoints, the (Viroqua) District violates the Establishment Clause and the Fourteenth Amendment guarantee of equal protection,” the Liberty Counsel argued in the fax.
The Counsel’s demand for inclusion of a Christian voice to balance other scheduled religious voices seems sensible to me — provided that the Christian were a Quaker or an Episcopalian. However, the demand that an exgay activist be permitted to speak against a previously scheduled gay couple raises suspicion.
The Tribune article does not specify which exgay activist would have been invited, but it’s mighty difficult to find exgay activists these days who support tolerance and diversity.
I am curious to know whether the gay couple really refused to participate with any exgay — or whether the couple simply understood that few exgay activists exhibit accurate information and live-and-let-live attitudes toward gay people.
As for the school district: At first glance, its board’s willingness to stand firm in support of diversity does not appear to be very strong.