Hate list includes parents' school group

March 13, 2012 at 4:19 PM

COON RAPIDS, Minn., March 13 (UPI) -- The Southern Poverty Law Center put a Minnesota school district's parents' group on its annual list of prominent hate groups.

The Parents Action League of the Anoka-Hennepin School District, northwest of Minneapolis, was singled out by theAlabama-based civil rights organization for the group's criticism of gay and lesbian lifestyles. The listing came a week after the civil rights group settled two anti-gay bullying lawsuits filed against the school district, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reported Tuesday.

The parents' group, which is independent of the school district, has been a vocal critic of the goals of the Southern Poverty Law Center, and Parents Action League president Laurie Thompson said in an e-mail it's "a privilege to be added to the long-list of pro-family organizations that have been labeled as hate groups."

Heidi Beirich of the Southern Poverty Law Center said the Minnesota group was included on the list for the way it defames and demonizes gay and lesbian people, and advocates the claim that "homosexuals are promiscuous, dysfunctional, unhealthy and harmful to public health," noting that "this group is putting out ugly propaganda about this population."

The Parents Action League was formed in 2010 to support a school district policy requiring teachers to stay neutral on gay-related school discussions, becoming noted for its opposition to those who claim the policy fostered an anti-gay environment, the newspaper said.

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