Toronto
2 min

Stranger than fiction

Spoof article used to attack London anti-bullying program

A London-area group opposing a plan aimed at making schools safer for queer students has issued an apology for including a satirical piece in their materials.



Members of Simple Truths Our Priority (STOP) handed out pamphlets outside a public meeting of the Thames Valley District School Board (TVDSB) last month in an effort to thwart the board’s expansion of its safe schools program. One such pamphlet features a photo taken from a 1998 story from the on-line satirical magazine The Onion showing a fictitious fifth-grade classroom. On the chalkboard is a drawing of two men having anal sex and a list of useful gay vocabulary including the terms leather daddy and diesel dyke. The full article was reprinted in a 220-page book of Internet research compiled by STOP.



The Onion story, titled ’98 Homosexual Recruitment Drive Nearing Goal, lauds the conversion of straight school children to radical queers thanks to the homosexual infiltration of the US public school system.



“For all the progress we’ve made,” states an imaginary gay spokesperson in the story, “America is still overwhelmingly heterosexual…. If we are to insidiously penetrate American society, as we constantly do each other’s orifices, we need more money and resources.”



London trustee Peter Jaffe promptly called for an apology from STOP for having included the bogus article.



“Satire is apparently lost on rigid individuals,” Jaffe told the London Free Press last week. “Taking something from a spoof newspaper and presenting it as reality crosses the line. [The photo] plays on people’s worst fears. I would hope this group will make a full and public apology.”



There is some question as to whether or not STOP realized that the article was a fake.



“I really think they believed it,” says US educator Barbara Coloroso, explaining that compared with some of the other anti-gay propaganda included in the package, “[The Onion article] was probably the mildest thing in it.”



Coloroso, whose name and quotes from her book Kids Are Worth It were also prominently featured in the STOP package without her permission, is currently pursuing legal action against the group for copyright infringement and defamation of character.



A schoolteacher and former nun, Coloroso says she was “sickened” when she read the STOP materials, sent to her by London trustee Peggy Sattler. Coloroso is a strong supporter of programs like the TVDSB safe schools project that address issues of bullying.



“That’s what’s bothered me is that I’ve spent all of my life championing the rights of kids who are in the minority,” says Coloroso.



“All these kids are asking is that they don’t get beaten up and bashed at schoolÂ… and [STOP’s] fear is that if a person who objected to the ‘gay lifestyle’ quoted Leviticus, that would be harassment.”



She says that she believes the parents behind STOP have good intentions and are just seriously misinformed.



“I really believe they care about their kids but one of the problems with fundamentalist attitudes and faith traditions is you don’t know how to think…. When they [STOP] were asked what [The Onion] was, they said it was a gay newspaper. That’s how misinformed they are.”



The Onion isn’t a gay paper, merely a satirical one. And although Onion staffers are declining to comment on the matter at this time, they did confirm that this isn’t the first time that they’ve been taken seriously.



STOP issued an apology to the TVDSB last weekend, but appealed to trustees not to dismiss the rest of the compiled materials just because one piece turned out to be a fraud. “We do not feel that the proverbial baby should be thrown out with the bathwater,” read the apology.



Debate on the TVDSB safe school plans began Apr 13 with security guards on hand to keep things in line.



* The Onion article can be found at The-onion.com/onion3326/homosexual-recruit.html.