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Deception 101 

On Tuesday, Mike Gamble showed 1,850 Palmer High School students, their parents and District 11 administrators just what kind of man he is.

A sexist, homophobic liar.

Gamble's story began early this summer when he attended a meeting to discuss whether the Planned Parenthood clinic on West Colorado Avenue should be expanded. Gamble, a Springs resident and strident opponent of abortion, learned that as part of its community outreach, guest speakers from the family planning organization, along with other groups, are invited to District 11 high schools to participate in mandated abstinence-based semester-long health classes.

"Abortion is not part of our curriculum," says D-11 administrator LouAnn Dekleva. "What [Planned Parenthood] talks about is abstinence, making responsible decisions, health issues like STD's and birth control. That's pretty much what they cover."

Dekleva says that Gamble called and wanted to review what Planned Parenthood's talks to D-11 students about. They said sure. They also offered to let him review the outline used by the Colorado Springs Pregnancy Center, which provides support to pregnant women and also sends guest speakers to talk to high school students. Gamble subsequently asked if he could "observe" the class in which a Planned Parenthood speaker was to appear. D-11 officials said sure. Palmer was the first D-11 high school on the list, and so administrators told Gamble when Planned Parenthood's spokesperson was to appear. Which was Tuesday.

"Our community is welcome to observe; that's the key word," said Palmer Vice Principal Cecilia Buetow.

"Our schools are open," echoed D-11 spokeswoman Elaine Naleski. "The one thing people can't do is disrupt."

Dekleva says Gamble agreed to specific parameters: He would not be disruptive; he would sit in on the class as a "quiet observer."

Students and staff arrived at Palmer High School on Tuesday to a grisly circus. A truck, sporting a massive 6-foot-by-4-foot depiction of an aborted fetus, was parked out front. Gamble and a handful of anti-abortion protesters stood outside the school, waving graphic and disturbing posters. They handed out fliers likening Planned Parenthood to "Klanned Parenthood" and accusing -- by name -- several Palmer High School teachers and administrators of "[inviting] the abortion industry into your school's health classes to indoctrinate children on birth control (e.g., abortion) and homosexuality."

"They were talking about killing babies, and making very religious statements and those sorts of things," says Principal Karin Reynolds.

Gamble never made it into the building for his "quiet observation." Police were called. The protesters were told to stay on the sidewalk out front, which is public property, where they spent the next four to five hours expressing their First Amendment right by waving their offensive -- and misleading -- signs around, interacting with students and handing out their fliers.

Here are a few snippets from the propaganda:

"Liberal teachers think it balanced if they talk about not killing babies, then invite baby killers to talk about their position. Planned Parenthood also gives balanced treatment to pedophilia and bestiality."

"Pro-aborts, homosexuals, pedophiles and other moral degenerates flock together. As Planned Parenthood promotes homosexuality, homosexuals will sometimes protest at the abortuary for abortion, homosexuality and their disease."

"MOLESTATION -- women who go in to kill their baby are often surprised when their insides are butchered or they are molested."

"Smart women remain chaste until they marry a Christian man that will love them for life, be the head of their household, and provide for them."

Gamble and his gang were also handing out -- without permission -- business cards belonging to the Colorado Springs Pregnancy Center. The center's director, Raul Reyes, says he got a call in the middle of a meeting from someone who told him what was happening. He personally drove to Palmer High School to retrieve a stack of his business cards. He says he has no idea how Gamble and his group obtained them.

"I think everyone's got a right to free speech but that's not something I feel comfortable with," Reyes said of Gamble's confrontational tactic. "We'd rather deal with anything dealing with issues like that in a real positive way rather than creating emotional distress."

Following the display, Gamble did not return phone calls seeking an explanation of his deception.

It was undoubtedly hard to keep classes as usual going at Palmer on Tuesday. Some got in the protesters' faces; others ignored them. Principal Reynolds and Vice Principal Buetow praised their students for being cool, opinionated, educated -- and mature. And for keeping a collective level head.

As Buetow so succinctly summarized: "Our kids are so much more advanced, sometimes, than adults."

-- degette@csindy.com

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