PFAW calls McGuire’s comments an ‘appeal to bigotry’ and an ‘attempt to exploit Georgia teens for political gain’
In an interview published August 2 , Perry McGuire, the Republican candidate for Attorney General in Georgia, harshly criticized gay high school students and gay-straight alliance clubs.
McGuire called gay-straight alliances “organizations that advocate illegal activity” and said that allowing them to meet is “much like allowing a pedophile club or a gambling club to meet at school.” He called them “detrimental to students and to the moral well-being of society.”
People For the American Way Deputy Legal Director Judith E. Schaeffer condemned McGuire’s comments.
“Gay-straight alliances exist to create safe, supportive environments for gay and lesbian students who all too often are victims of bullying and discrimination, to combat harassment and discrimination, and to provide information. To suggest that they exist to advocate illegal activity is just plain wrong. It’s an attempt to appeal to bigotry and exploit Georgia teens for political gain,” Schaeffer said.
Schaeffer expressed concern that McGuire’s comments could make Georgia high schools even more dangerous for gay and lesbian teenagers.
“Research indicates that many students who are gay or perceived to be gay are verbally or physically harassed or assaulted in school. Divisive, erroneous, and mean-spirited comments like McGuire’s could increase anti-gay sentiment and lead to even more bullying of gay and lesbian young people. That’s unacceptable. All students, gay and non-gay, should be able to feel safe, and be safe, when they go to school.”
McGuire’s comments were in response to a recent federal court ruling that held that the federal Equal Access Act compels White County High School in Cleveland, Georgia, to allow students in the school’s gay-straight alliance to meet on campus, just as students in other non-curriculum-related clubs are allowed to meet. People For the American Way Foundation and co-counsel at Lambda Legal and the law firm of Irell & Manella litigated the precedent-setting federal court case (Colin v. Orange Unified School District) that first applied the Equal Access Act to require a school district to allow a gay-straight alliance to meet.