An anti-LGBTQ+ “parents’ rights” group, Parents Defending Education (PDE), has blasted a grant program from the LGBTQ+ youth advocacy organization the It Gets Better Project, claiming that it promotes “bigotry” and “gender ideology” in schools.
PDE criticized It Gets Better for awarding $10,000 grants to at least 56 U.S. and 15 Canadian public and charter schools during 2023, totaling over $600,000. The grants “fund projects that support and uplift LGBTQ+ identity in schools,” such as gay-straight alliances, queer history displays, queer book clubs, LGBTQ+ cultural panels, queer proms, and inclusivity trainings for school community members, It Gets Better wrote. In one case, a grant funded an event with the drag nun activist group The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence to buy back-to-school clothes with trans and nonbinary students.
LGBTQ+ youth need more than just our attention and our supportive words; they need our resources too.
“The group is funding programs and curricula that are inappropriate for children and certainly inappropriate for classrooms in public schools,” said PDE director of operations Erika Sanzi to the far-right publication The Daily Caller.
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“The fact that they funded a program for a public school to work with the anti-Catholic organization Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence shows that the group is more than willing to work with those who practice bigotry against Americans who think and believe differently from them,” Sanzi added.
PDE is a group that seeks to end block school curriculum that places an “emphasis on students’ group identities: race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation and gender,” because such lessons fill schools with “guilt,” “shame,” “grievance,” “resentment,” “distrust,” “unhappiness,” “confusion,” and “fear,” PDE’s website states. The group claims that LGBTQ+-inclusive books are a form of “pornography,” and, in 2022, wrote a letter opposing President Joe Biden’s anti-discrimination protections for trans students — the letter was co-signed by 26 right-wing groups.
Although PDE touts itself as a “grassroots” parents organization, it’s funded by conservative dark money, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.
Sanzi’s comment about the Sisters echoes conservatives who have blasted the group as anti-Catholic. The Sisters’ members wear eye-catching outfits styled after nuns’ habits, and they have also advocated for community groups that have long been stigmatized by the Catholic Church.
The It Gets Better Project was founded in 2010 by gay activist Dan Savage. At its start, the project encouraged famous queer people and allies to make videos telling LGBTQ+ youth not to consider suicide, but the project has since expanded into a global non-profit that provides queer youth advocacy in 19 countries.
Right-wing conservatives and “parents’ groups,” like PDE and Moms for Liberty, have blasted LGBTQ+ youth organizations — like The Trevor Project and GLSEN — for allegedly “grooming” children with “gender confusion” and “pushing” them to identify as queer and transgender.
These right-wingers have largely supported efforts to ban LGBTQ+ content from schools and local libraries and block minors from accessing gender-affirming health care.