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On the naughty step - conduct that deserves a ticking off

This week: US politician Charles Van Zant

This week: US politician Charles Van Zant

Changes to the school curriculum are often unpopular, and politicians are frequently criticised for trying to peddle their own ideologies through, say, overly patriotic reading lists.

But never before, to our knowledge, has anyone accused a curriculum of being linked to a gay conspiracy. However, that's just what happened recently in the US at a debate about the Common Core State Standards - the country's first tentative steps towards introducing a national curriculum.

Florida legislator Charles Van Zant informed an audience in Orlando that he was "sorry to report" that an organisation awarded a contract to develop tests for the Common Core was trying to "attract every one of your children to become as homosexual as they possibly can".

The Republican representative apparently came to this conclusion because the testing company, the American Institutes for Research, included resources on its website for supporting the families of gay, lesbian and transgender pupils.

No right-thinking person would regard this as an attempt to turn people into homosexuals. But the accusation has played to the fears of conservative Americans, a strategy to which many politicians turn when they want to put voters off an idea.

So for coming out with a load of cobblers, Mr Van Zant, it's off to the naughty step with you.

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