A pamphlet has been sent out to 16,000 schools across the United States in an effort to protect the well-being of students “at higher risk” because of their sexual orientation.

The 24-page pamphlet has been sent to all public school superintendents in a coalition led by the National Education Association (NEA) and American Psychological Association (APA).

The initiative has drawn criticism from national pro-family group the Family Research Council, who have said it is a “promotion of homosexuality” in schools and gives parents “16,000 new reasons to question the agenda of national teachers’ union leaders.” The group has put together its own flier in opposition to the guide, entitled Homosexuality In Your Child’s School.

Just the Facts About Sexual Orientation and Youth: A Primer for Principals, Educators and School Personnel serves as a guide for public school employees “who confront sensitive issues involving gay, lesbian and bisexual students,” the coalition of 13 national associations said in an APA news release announcing the distribution of the booklet.

The brochure “includes the most recent information from professional health organisations, as well as up-to-date information on the legal responsibility of school officials to protect students from anti-gay harassment.”

The joint statement from the coalition states: “The opportunity for students to learn is diminished when they do not feel safe or supported at school.

“In addition to assault and harassment, gay, lesbian and bisexual students experience high rates of emotional distress, suicide attempts and substance abuse.

“These factors hinder their emotional and social development, as well as their ability to succeed in school. It is our responsibility to provide accurate and factual information. We believe this publication will be a valuable tool to help educators, administrators and others concerned with caring for America’s students.”

First formed in 1998, the coalition produced the original version of Just the Facts to respond to concerns that school personnel were receiving inaccurate information on the issue of sexual orientation. The updated publication reflects the coalition’s continuing concern about the safety and well-being of gay, lesbian and bisexual students.

Led by the National Education Association (NEA) and the American Psychological Association (APA), the coalition includes the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Counselling Association, the American Association of School Administrators, the American Federation of Teachers and the American School Counsellor Association.

Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council (FRC), dismissed the project as evidence for parents to question the agenda of the NEA and its allies.

“Among the so-called ‘facts’ in the 24-page document is the opinion that homosexuality is ‘a normal expression of human sexuality,” he said in an email statement on the FRC website.

“The booklet also warns teachers not to discuss ‘transformational ministries’ that suggest homosexuality is a condition that can be changed. Religious-based views are regarded as harmful, if not dangerous.

“This is no surprise to those who have followed the leftward drift of the NEA leadership. For years, the organisation has used teachers’ dues to subsidise its top officials’ left-wing fanaticism, which includes everything from promoting homosexuality and abortion in schools to pushing birth control.

“The APA is no better. In the past few decades, the group has gone from listing homosexuality as a mental disorder to becoming one of its biggest champions in the public square.

“Now both groups are using their influence to transform public schools into incubators for their radical social agendas. These lessons in political correctness must stop!”

The Family Research Council’s own schools brochure, Homosexuality In Your Child’s School, states: “Despite decades of activism and media propaganda promoting acceptance and celebration of homosexuality, and a number of political and judicial victories for the pro-homosexual movement, polls show that a clear majority of Americans still believe that homosexual behaviour is ‘morally wrong.'”

“Pro-homosexual activists have therefore decided that indoctrinating impressionable school children is an easier way of changing public attitudes toward homosexuality than persuading adults.”