Rep. Charles Van Zant says testing company promotes homosexuality

Lawmaker stands by comments in interview with Channel 4

ORLANDO, Fla. – A state lawmaker from Clay County claims the company charged with creating new state standardized tests in Florida promotes homosexuality.

The group "Think Progress" posted a video on YouTube of Rep. Charles Van Zant Sr. from Keystone Heights claiming the American Institutes for Research promotes homosexuality on its website.

"Please, go on their website. Click the link to what they're doing with youth and you will see what their agenda really is," said Van Zant. "They are promoting as hard as they can any youth that is interested in the LGBT agenda and even name it 2-S, as they define as having two spirits. The Bible says a lot about being double-minded."

Van Zant made the comments in March at the "Operation Education Conference" in Orlando, an anti-Common Core event, according to Think Progress.


"These people, that will now receive $220 million from the state of Florida unless it's stopped, will promote double-mindedness in state education and attract every one of your children to become a homosexual as they possibly can. … I'm sorry to report that to you and I thank you for giving me this opportunity to speak. I really hate to bring you that news. But you need to know," said Van Zant.

AIR was selected in March by the Florida Department of Education Commissioner to create assessment tests to replace the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT) as a push to improve Florida Standards.

A spokesperson for AIR said the research the company conducts is inclusive of all students. He said AIR does not promote the gay or lesbian lifestyle, but instead enables teachers to deal with the issues of today.

Florida's newly appointed education commissioner, Pam Stewart, on Tuesday rejected Van Zant's assertion that the standardized testing company has a pro-homosexual agenda.

UNCUT VIDEO: View Van Zant's entire 18-minute remarks

Van Zant stood by his comments in an interview with Channel 4's Tarik Minor on Tuesday.

Van Zant confirmed he made the comments at an event two months ago, although he did not know he was being recorded on video. He said Common Core could introduce homosexuality to children, something he said should be left to parents to discuss with their kids.

"I don't think that has any place being introduced in Florida schools," Van Zant said. "I further believe there is no place for that in Florida's curriculum."

Van Zant said he takes issue with the research that's going to be provided to teachers and administrators about the gay and lesbian lifestyle and how to deal with students. He said AIR is essentially promoting homosexuality.

"If you just look on their website -- You can see that they are very much in support (and) provide research data and information for the LGBT agenda, the gay, bisexual, transgender agenda," he said.

Stewart said the testing firm does research for many clients and work for one does not influence its work for another.

Van Zant said AIR's curriculum is not in the state's best interest, but members of the LGBT community are taking issue with his comments.

Equality Florida released a statement, which reads in part, "It is reprehensible whenever an elected official conjures up homophobic scare tactics for political gain. His assertion that an education program seeks to make children gay is absurd. I hope others in Florida government will swiftly distance themselves from a paranoid and unhinged view."

Members of Van Zant's district are divided on what information should be introduced in school.

"They need to learn about the special needs children before the gays and the lesbians," said parent Timothy Hartley.

But Wanda Fayo, a parent in Van Zant's district, said education is important for understanding differences.

"Kids should understand the difference between a regular household and a mixed household because some kids don't understand why some kids have two mommies or two daddies," she said.

Brenda Morris, another parent, said educators need to know how to help kids who might be dealing with gender identity issues.

"You know, there's been a lot of suicide in Keystone Heights schools," she said. "Kids gets targeted and teachers don't know how to handle it. Teachers need education. It's good; it's not bad."