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A new election day boogeyman for social conservatives?

November 01, 2012|By Jon Healey
  • The Traditional Values Coalition announced a new "awareness campaign" about Democrats who support the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.
The Traditional Values Coalition announced a new "awareness campaign"… (Traditional Values Coalition )

At the risk of sounding like a troll, have social conservatives replaced "homosexual teachers" with "transgendered teachers" as their scare tactic of choice?

I have to concede right up front that I haven't been paying close attention to the news releases that the Traditional Values Coalition sends out. Nevertheless, the one the group released Wednesday struck me as a new wrinkle on a familiar theme.

"Traditional Values Coalition is running awareness campaigns in 7 states to inform voters which candidates for U.S. Senate support putting transgender teachers in the classroom," the release declares (emphasis in the original).  "The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) is radical legislation that hurts kids and forces schools to hire or retain transgendered teachers in every school district in America."

Actually, it doesn't. It bars schools from refusing to hire someone based on their "sexual orientation or gender identity," or from firing people on that basis. But it doesn't tell schools that they have to recruit transgendered teachers, shield them from layoffs or firings based on other factors, or even waive dress codes or grooming standards for them. Nor does it apply to religious schools.

But my point here isn't to debate the merits of ENDA. It's simply to note that in raising the issue against seven Democratic Senate candidates who've supposedly "committed to ENDA's passage" (only three of whom are actual co-sponsors), the Traditional Values Coalition focuses exclusively on the threat of children being taught by "cross-dressers" and "those who have surgically operated on their bodies to alter their gender."

ENDA applies to plain ol' gays and lesbians too. Is the coalition saying they're just not scary anymore?

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