Back when William Weld was still governor of Massachusetts—an office he quit to concentrate on his futile fight with Jesse Helms—his homosexual allies in the state were fond of calling him the nation’s “most pro-gay governor.” It’s easy to see why. Like Nixon going to China, Weld blazed a new path for the Grand Old Party, infuriating social conservatives with his zealous advocacy of homosexual—even gay youth—”rights.” His legacy raises stark questions about where “moderate” Republicans hope to take the nation.

To understand how far Weld pushed the pro-gay envelope in Massachusetts, one need look no farther than the schools. Under his stewardship, Massachusetts became ground zero in the movement to promote homosexual-affirming educational policies, and the state’s “educrats” are now working with gay groups to export them to other school districts nationwide. In 1994, after Weld created his precedent-setting “Governor’s Commission on Gay and Lesbian Youth,” Massachusetts became the first state to enact a “gay rights” law for schools. The state now holds an annual “Gay/Straight Youth Pride March,” sponsored by—of all agencies—the Department of Health, in concert with several homosexual activist groups. The taxpayer- subsidized rally is held on the steps of the state capitol in Boston, followed by a “gay prom” at—you guessed it—City Hall. After all, this is Massachusetts.

The Bay State’s embrace of “gay youth” highlights a disturbing national trend: the use of schools as gay affirmation and propaganda centers, often without parents’ knowledge. While social conservatives have focused on stopping the legalization of “gay marriage,” homosexual activists and their allies have been diligently working in schools to advance their agenda of norming homosexuality. All across the country, young students are being confirmed as “gays” by older mentors and teachers. Homosexual activists proclaim their support for “GLBT? youth”—ostensibly gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and “questioning” kids—and talk effusively about the trend of teenagers “coming out” at younger and younger ages. The result of the “gay youth” sensitivity crusade has been a proliferation of horror stories, as parents get wind of one-sided, pro-homosexual “lessons” or even “gay pride” rallies at their child’s school, often after the fact. Massachusetts probably leads the nation in this dubious department.

Take the case of Mike Chiusano of Beverly, Massachusetts, who was driven to parental rights activism four years ago when his daughter pronounced him a “homophobe” over the dinner table. It seems the younger Chiusano, then 14, had just emerged from four days of mandatory assemblies called “Homophobia Week” at Beverly High School. Her father didn’t even know about the assemblies, which are now annual fixtures at schools all over Massachusetts (they are officially promoted by the state Department of Education). When Mr. Chiusano protested to the Beverly High administrators, his family became the victim of a harassment campaign, including a phone call to his wife from one zealot who threatened, “We know where your daughter lives.” So much for tolerance.

Another “accidental activist” in the move to restore sanity in the schools is Ed Beucler, a Cambridge resident who discovered on October 11, 1995, that his son, then a freshman, was required to attend a “coming out” rally sponsored by the “gay” student club at his school, Cambridge Ridge and Latin High School. (October 11 is the day celebrated by gay activists nationwide as “National Coming Out Day.”) The only notice that Beucler and his wife received were the words “Coming Out Rally” on the school calendar sent home to parents. When the Beuclers complained to school authorities about the rally, which included a “transgendered” speaker, they were ignored for three months. Finally, they were asked to come in and discuss their concerns “and their son’s progress”—infuriating Mr. Beucler, who saw no connection between the performance of his son, a straight-A student, and his concerns about the “gay” rally. Ultimately, Cambridge’s superintendent said she would make no changes to the school’s “Coming Out” rallies in the future.

Yet another atrocity came to light in March 1997, when the Worcester Telegram & Gazette reported that Douglas Matthews —the faculty advisor to the “gay-straight alliance” at Algonquin Regional High School—passed out a mind-bending “Questionnaire about Heterosexuality” to students in his freshman history class. The survey is used by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN-formerly the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Teachers Network) and other homosexual groups to expose alleged “homophobic” attitudes and turn the tables on critics who posit homosexuality as abnormal. It includes such questions as “What do you think caused your heterosexuality?” and “If you’ve never slept with a person of the same sex and enjoyed it, is it possible that all you need is a good gay lover?” Matthews’ tendentious survey, which was not pre-approved by the school, would never have seen the light of day had not two students secretly brought it home to their parents.

The melding of homosexual advocacy with education has caused an outbreak of incidents like the above in schools across the country. What is unique about Massachusetts is the state’s funding of, and airtight alliance with, homosexual groups to carry it out. To advance their agenda, organizations like GLSEN devised a cunning strategy of encouraging the formation of pro-homosexual student clubs in schools, called “Gay- Straight Alliances.” Rallying behind a campaign for “Safe Schools,” gay activists worked with state bureaucrats to promote the idea that there is an epidemic of suicides among homosexual youth—50 percent of youth suicides are by “gay and lesbian” youngsters, they claim—hence the need for gay-affirming outreach programs in schools. This claim is utterly baseless. One of the world’s leading experts on youth suicide, Dr. David Shaffer of Columbia University, has dismissed the 30 percent figure as arising from “hocus-pocus math.” But that didn’t stop David LaFontaine, the gay activist appointed by Governor Weld to head the state’s homosexual youth commission, from ominously declaring that “Gay youth suicide is like a hidden holocaust in America.”

As part of the lobbying campaign for the Massachusetts school “gay rights” law, students stood on the steps of the State House and held up signs such as “Gays Make Up 30% of Youth Suicides.” The strategy, though deceitful, is brilliant. After all, who could be against protecting “at risk” kids from verbal and physical abuse—even suicide? Kevin Jennings, a former history teacher and the founder of GLSEN, boasted of the propaganda line’s success in a 1995 speech: “We immediately seized upon the opponents’ calling card—safety—and explained how homophobia represents a threat to students’ safety by creating a climate where violence, name-calling, health problems, and suicide are common,” he said. “In Massachusetts, no one could speak up against our frame and say, ‘Why, yes, I do think students should kill themselves.’ This allowed us to set the terms of the debate.”

Critics saw the classic “bait-and-switch” tactic at work: win political support by tugging at the heartstrings, then move in with homosexual propaganda programs that promote one-sided “gay rights” shibboleths to impressionable students while leaving them ignorant of the health risks (and moral critiques) of homosexual behavior.

Jennings and fellow gay activists have a champion in Bill Weld, whose nomination as U.S. Ambassador to Mexico was sunk by Senator Helms. Massachusetts’ homosexual lobby threw its support to Weld in 1992, helping him to defeat feisty conservative Democrat John Silber. (Ironically, the quirky Weld later appointed Silber as chairman of the state Board of Education.) In return, Weld gave gay activists carte blanche in his administration, appointing several homosexuals to state posts. Among them was LaFontaine—who several years ago was spotted in the periphery of an ACT UP protest in Boston in which homosexual militants pelted newly ordained Catholic priests (and their relatives) with condoms as they left a church induction ceremony. Now LaFontaine’s activism is funded by the taxpayer. As the man behind the “Gay Youth Pride” rally, he looked on like a proud uncle as student after student stood on the steps of the State Capitol to rail against “homophobia” and praise Massachusetts for its “diversity.”

At the rally, LaFontaine and his young followers celebrated that a full 100 Massachusetts high schools—one third of the state’s total—now have homosexual affirming “gay-straight alliance” clubs. His goal: a GSA in the remaining 200 schools in Massachusetts—most in more tradition-minded regions of the state. There will be plenty of taxpayer money to reeducate the masses. The state budget for pro-homosexual youth programs grew year after year under Weld. And as a parting act, he promised LaFontaine a $1 million budget to administer his “gay youth” agenda next year (an amount that was ultimately approved by Weld’s successor, Governor Paul Cellucci, who appears even more sympathetic to the homosexual cause than Weld). The only good news for the state’s beleaguered pro-family movement is that under a parental rights law passed last year (coupled with good regulations approved by Silber), students will likely have to tell their parents of their involvement in GSAs, and parents will at least receive advance warning of pro-gay events in their child’s school.

How far has taxpayer-funded homosexual promotion gone in Massachusetts schools? A clue can be found in a 76-page manual entitled “Gay/Straight Alliances: A Student Guide,” produced by the Massachusetts Department of Education. The publication might have been written by Queer Nation, so blatant is its promotion of open and proud homosexuality for young people. On page nine, students are told to “Display posters in your school that educate people about homosexuality and homophobia.” On page 25, the manual innocently recommends Tony Kushner’s play. Angels in America, without mentioning that the play is laden with crude gay sexual references and features simulated sodomy and nudity (in addition to cliche-ridden leftist diatribes). On page 26, the manual approvingly recounts a visit by some GSA members from Newton North High School to three eighth-grade classes at their former middle school: “The group members were exuberant . . . knowing that they had helped to break the ignorance, silence and fear surrounding issues of homophobia at their alma mater.” On page 29, students are instructed how to plan “Awareness Days”—the same propaganda events that set off the Beuclers and their son. The manual reprints a “sample agenda” from a 1993 “Gay and Lesbian Awareness Day” at Newton South High School, which included a workshop on “Transgender Issues.” Apparently in Massachusetts, it’s never too early to indoctrinate students.

Back in May, at the “Gay Youth Pride” rally in Boston, the mood was festive as an adult announced that “this is a no-smoking, non-alcoholic event”— since it was sponsored by the Health Department. Sadly, the state’s touching concern for teen welfare does not extend to enlightening them on the manifold risks of homosexual behavior: syphilis, amebiasis, hepatitis A and B, AIDS. Most boys I interviewed at the rally had no clue about threats to their physical well-being posed by “gay” sex practices—except to mouth “safer sex” rhetoric about wearing a condom. The kids did seem to be well-versed in “gay” activism, though. Andy Anello, a 17-year-old junior from Canton High School, recalled how members of his GSA, called the “Rainbow Alliance,” put pink triangles on every student locker as part of “Free Your Mind Week” at the school. Anello’s mind may have been free, but like many at the rally, his body bore the marks of an odd form of conformity—with an earring piercing his right eyebrow, and two on both ears. He and the other GLBT? kids displayed the telltale signs of youthful rebellion, 90’s-style. Now along comes the government with its “gay-straight” school movement to infuse them with homosexual ideology and “pride.” It’s heady stuff for alienated, confused teens looking for meaning in their lives and a place to fit in.

It is one thing to ban abuse in schools—or teach students to respect one another and have manners. But it is quite another for the state to promote an unnatural homosexual “identity” with its attendant risks as “normal” to teenagers, while shielding them from opposing viewpoints. And what about gay activists as taxpayer-financed role models? At the homosexual “prom” later that evening, I witnessed a spectacle that would have made George Orwell shudder. Sterling Stowell, executive director of the sponsoring organization, the Boston Alliance of Gay and Lesbian Youth—and a transvestite—was carefully guarding the doors to City Hall to ensure that only approved press (i.e., no “homophobes”) and students could enter. There was Mr./Mrs. Stowell, decked out in a colorful scarf-like gown, gaudy diamondshaped earrings and full makeup—serving as Chief Protector of the “at risk” school kids! The gays are in charge in Massachusetts, and I fear for the children.