DOBSON’S GROUP: ANTI-BULLYING PROGRAMS PART OF ELABORATE PLOT…. If a group is committed to focusing on families, it stands to reason it would support school efforts to combat bullying. Regrettably, Focus on the Family, religious right pioneer James Dobson’s conservative outlet, doesn’t quite see it that way.

Gay-rights groups’ push for anti-bullying legislation and school programs is an effort to “promote homosexuality to kids,” according to a conservative Christian activist organization.

The accusation has underscored the conflicting attitudes among some politicians and parents who have lent their support to these policies after a string of deadly bullying episodes across the country.

Focus on the Family has accused gay-rights groups of using tolerance and anti-bullying programs to introduce curricula and books into schools that promote political aims such as same-sex marriage. The same groups, it says, lobby for gays and other minority groups to be specifically mentioned in anti-bullying legislation and try to depict Christians opposed to such treatment as bigots.

“What parents need to be aware of is there are activist groups who want to promote homosexuality to kids because they realize if they can capture hearts and minds of our children at the earliest ages they will have for all practical purposes won the clash of values that we are currently experiencing,” Candi Cushman, education analyst for Focus on the Family, said on recently launched website

As the argument goes, some of the students who get picked on may be targeted because of their sexual orientation. For Focus on the Family, creating protections for LGTB students may send a signal that there’s nothing wrong with homosexuality — and as such, anti-bullying efforts are somehow “anti-Christian.”

Let’s make this plain: unless Christians intend to harass and intimidate other students over their sexuality, then there’s nothing to worry about when it comes to anti-bullying efforts.

Massachusetts State Sen. Robert O’Leary, who wrote the state’s recently passed anti-bullying law in the wake of the suicide of Phoebe Prince, a 16-year-old Irish immigrant who hanged herself after being harassed in school and online, said Focus on the Family is missing the point and using children’s pain to promote its own agenda.

“We all understand that bullying has been around forever,” the Democrat said. “We have to make an effort to stop and recognize it and understand it has enormously destructive impacts on children.

“The fact that they argue in this vein indicates that it is often gays and lesbians who are most often the targets of this abuse, and that’s why it’s doubly important to protect them.”

Sounds right to me.

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.