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Iowa not cool with Bradlee Dean's public school invasion

Bradlee Dean has really screwed up the town of Dunkerton, Iowa.

Dean and his Christian-rap-metal troupe, Junkyard Prophet, hosted a supposed "anti-bullying" assembly at the Dunkertown high school last week that literally left some of the kids in tears. Among the more controversial messages delivered by the anti-gay preacher and his cronies: The average lifespan for a gay man is 42, and if women have sex before marriage, they will have "mud on their wedding dresses."

The principal of the school has since resigned, according to the WCF Courier, though school officials say there's no connection.

Earlier this week, a collective of advocacy groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union, penned an open letter to school administrators, demanding that they be more careful about who is invited to talk to kids. From the letter (in full at the bottom of the post):

It is clear Bradlee Dean's group was not forthcoming in revealing what they would present. School administrators thought the subject matter of the assembly would be "provocative lyrics in music and making good choices." Instead, the group focused on its personal religious and highly controversial views about the Constitution, Christianity, sexual orientation and gender identity, and teen sexual activity.

Veronica Lorson Fowler, communications director for the ACLU-Iowa, says the letter was written out of concern for what was allowed to happen.

"What we wanted to do in the letter was just to make it very clear to school administrators that they need to choose their programs for students very carefully," says Fowler. "That some groups aren't always as up front about what the content of the program is going to be."

Fowler says something as simple as a Google search can be enough. So, Dunkerton high school, let us Google that for you.

Here's that letter in full:

Re: Groups Seeking to Hold Public School Assemblies in Iowa

March 13, 2012

Dear School Administrators and Staff,

We are writing to inform you of a group working in Iowa to invite itself into your school to hold an assembly for your students. We have concerns about this group and their presentations as a presentation given at a public school assembly last week sparked criticism and concerns from students, parents, teachers, and administrators. Iowa schools work hard to create environments where all students feel safe and welcome, where bullying is not tolerated. However, Bradlee Dean's Junkyard Prophets and You Can Run But You Cannot Hide presentations undermine those goals as they are sectarian and divisive.

In hindsight, administrators of the school acknowledge they wish they had completed a more thorough check on Dean and his organization and the school district has since apologized for the assembly. But it is hard to undo some of the harmful effects the event had on students. It is clear Bradlee Dean's group was not forthcoming in revealing what they would present. School administrators thought the subject matter of the assembly would be "provocative lyrics in music and making good choices." Instead, the group focused on its personal religious and highly controversial views about the Constitution, Christianity, sexual orientation and gender identity, and teen sexual activity.

The message presented at assemblies such as this can make students feel uncomfortable, unaccepted, and unsafe. Holding a school-sponsored assembly of this nature also creates the appearance that the school itself is endorsing the message given to students. From both educational and constitutional standpoints, such an endorsement is inappropriate, given that statements made by the group reflected the beliefs of a particular religious sect to the exclusion of others. Both the U.S. and Iowa constitutions prohibit such an endorsement.

Bradlee Dean, Junkyard Prophets, You Can Run but You Cannot Hide and their real purpose can be found easily on the internet. We urge you to continue to gather necessary background information about any group wishing to come into your school and hold assemblies for students. Assemblies like the one last week have no place in our public schools.

Sincerely,
Iowa Safe Schools
www.iowasafeschools.org

Interfaith Alliance of Iowa
www.interfaithallianceiowa.org

American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa
www.aclu-ia.org

One Iowa
www.oneiowa.org

Iowa Pride Network
www.iowapridenetwork.org

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