Re: Groups Seeking to Hold Public School Assemblies in Iowa
March 13, 2012
Dear School Administrators and Staff,
We are writing to inform you of a group working in Iowa to invite itself into your school to hold an assembly for your students. We have concerns about this group and their presentations as a presentation given at a public school assembly last week sparked criticism and concerns from students, parents, teachers, and administrators. Iowa schools work hard to create environments where all students feel safe and welcome, where bullying is not tolerated. However, Bradlee Dean’s Junkyard Prophets and You Can Run But You Cannot Hide presentations undermine those goals as they are sectarian and divisive.
In hindsight, administrators of the school acknowledge they wish they had completed a more thorough check on Dean and his organization and the school district has since apologized for the assembly. But it is hard to undo some of the harmful effects the event had on students. It is clear Bradlee Dean’s group was not forthcoming in revealing what they would present. School administrators thought the subject matter of the assembly would be “provocative lyrics in music and making good choices.” Instead, the group focused on its personal religious and highly controversial views about the Constitution, Christianity, sexual orientation and gender identity, and teen sexual activity.
You can view a KWWL-TV news story about the school assembly HERE.
The message presented at assemblies such as this can make students feel uncomfortable, unaccepted, and unsafe. Holding a school–sponsored assembly of this nature also creates the appearance that the school itself is endorsing the message given to students. From both educational and constitutional standpoints, such an endorsement is inappropriate, given that statements made by the group reflected the beliefs of a particular religious sect to the exclusion of others. Both the U.S. and Iowa constitutions prohibit such an endorsement.
Bradlee Dean, Junkyard Prophets, You Can Run but You Cannot Hide and their real purpose can be found easily on the Internet. We urge you to continue to gather necessary background information about any group wishing to come into your school and hold assemblies for students.
Assemblies like the one last week have no place in our public schools.
Iowa Pride Network
Iowa Safe Schools
Interfaith Alliance of Iowa
American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa