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Murphy criticized for backing campaign

| Thursday, Feb. 24, 2005, 12:00 p.m.

A conservative Christian group criticized Pittsburgh Mayor Tom Murphy on Wednesday for supporting "No Name Calling Week," an anti-bullying campaign sponsored by a national organization that promotes gay rights in schools.

Murphy proclaimed Jan. 24 through 28 "No Name Calling Week" for Pittsburgh's schools. The Pittsburgh Public School District did not participate in the program created by the New York City-based Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network. A Pittsburgh schools spokeswoman said the district already employs several anti-bullying teaching methods.

The American Family Association of PA, a chapter of the Telupa, Miss.-based group that promotes Christian beliefs, sent a letter to Murphy on Tuesday informing him of the connection to the gay rights group and asked him to conduct more research on such programs before adopting them.

An American Family Association of PA spokeswoman said her group didn't know if Murphy knew about the program's connection to the gay rights education network.

A message left with Murphy's office Wednesday was not returned.

The group's Web site makes "lesson plans, a video for classroom use and other promotional materials" available to schools that want to participate. According to the Web site, 600 schools participated nationwide last year in the anti-bullying week.

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