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Parents Action League listed as a hate group

The Southern Poverty Law Center recently released its annual "Hate Map" which identifies over 1,000 groups all over the U.S. that it considers to be hate groups.

Debuting this year is the Champlain-based group Parents Action League, which testified at many Anoka-Hennepin school board meetings against repeal of the neutrality policy. They also strongly advocated that students in the district be referred to ex-gay therapy resources.

"They say terrible things like gays are more promiscuous than straights," says Heidi Beirich,
director of the Intelligence Project. "They also work closely with other anti-gay hate groups."

The Southern Poverty Law Center recently got a ground-breaking settlement against the Anoka-Hennepin school district after alleging that the district's policies created a hostile environment for gay students that lead to discrimination and bullying. Members of the Parents Action League had a strong hand in creating some of those policies, most prominently Barb Anderson. She was a part of the 1995 committee that drafted the original curriculum policy that dictated that homosexuality not be taught as a "normal, valid lifestyle." That policy morphed into the Sexual Orientation Curriculum Policy, which said that teachers must remain neutral on the topic of homosexuality, and became the focal point of the lawsuit.

However, Beirich says that the hate group label comes primarily from material found on PAL's website. For example, from in a list of demands to the district, the website reads, "students who become involved with outside homosexual organizations face greater threats to their health/longevity/quality of life due to the libertine philosophy of such groups," and that the district should "provide webinars/seminars for all staff on overcoming sexual disorders."

A representative of PAL echoed previous statements made by Barb Anderson by telling the Pioneer Press that the hate group distinction was "a privilege." (Anderson once told a conservative talk radio show being called a hate group by SPLC was a "badge of honor.)

There is a way off the list of course -- PAL just has to erase anti-gay rhetoric from its website.

"It would be a happy day for us," says Beirich.

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