Day of Silence, a project of the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), remains one of the most powerful messages against the kind of bullying that is directed at LGBT kids across the country. Its message is simple: Be silent to end the silence that bullied kids get from school administration and community leaders regarding their plight. The event has garnered significant opposition over the past 16 years, including psudo-religious groups who are particularly miffed over “politicizing” our schools.
Kids all across the country will remain deliberately silent to bring awareness to “the silence faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and their allies.” and that they believe that “ending the silence is the first step toward building awareness and making a commitment to address these injustices.” Their Day of Silence “speaking cards” also implores readers to “think about the voices” they are not hearing on that day, a reference to kids who have committed suicide after extensive bullying.
This one event sends a powerful message nationwide that it’s not okay to bully LGBT people. It’s not okay to ostracize them. It’s not okay to intimidate them. It’s certainly not okay to cheer people on who do these things.
Christine P. Sun, Senior Counsel with the ACLU LGBT Project posted an open letter for school administrators to help students and adminstrators find a proper place for Day of Silence participation. She points out that people who are targeted for anti-gay bullying don’t necessarily identify as such.
The purpose is to silently and peacefully protest anti-lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) bullying, harassment, and name calling. As evidenced by recent tragedies, awareness and attention to this issue is needed now more than ever. Because students who are targeted for anti-gay or antitransgender bullying often do not identify as LGBT, the Day of Silence represents a peaceful protest of a problem that affects all students no matter their sexual orientation or gender identity.
Administrators are encouraged to allow participation, and teachers are encouraged to have some form of “silent lesson” or to have the participant complete a written assignment. Sun also writes that administrative endorsement of the event is not mandatory, but the schools may not prohibit students from engaging in the Day of Silence just because it might be controversial.
Students, however, are cautioned that they may not disrupt classes by refusing to answer direct questions.
According to Lambda Legal, “Under the Constitution, public schools must respect students’ right to free speech. The right to speak includes the right not to speak, as well as the right to wear buttons or T-shirts expressing support for a cause.” However, this right to free speech doesn’t extend to classroom time. “If a teacher tells a student to answer a question during class, the student generally doesn’t have a constitutional right to refuse to answer.” We remind participants that students who talk with their teachers ahead of time are more likely to be able to remain silent during class.
Not everyone is thrilled about the idea of Day of Silence. Focus on the Family has created a relatively new “counter” to the DoS with their “Day of Dialogue.” Organizers claim that the event is all about “honest conversation” as opposed to silence.
If this sounds a little familiar, it should. Before Focus on the Family got a hold of it, it was known as “Day of Truth,” and was started and promoted by the Alliance Defense Fund, an anti-gay legal group that is one of the legal teams behind the Perry v. Brown case over Proposition 8 that is working its way through the system. The ADF launched the Day of Truth concept who want to “respecfully” share a “Biblical perspective” over homosexuality.
Who wants to venture a guess as to whether or not Leviticus 20:13 is one of those “Biblical perspectives” they want to “share?”
‘If a man has sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They are to be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads. (NIV)
Let’s get some more of THAT “respect,” shall we?
In 2009, Exodus International took on the promotion of the event when they saw it as a way to help with their cause of trying to convince gays to “change.” However, after only one year behind the helm, they saw it as the hot potato that it is:
“All the recent attention to bullying helped us realize that we need to equip kids to live out biblical tolerance and grace while treating their neighbors as they’d like to be treated, whether they agree with them or not,” said Alan Chambers, President of Exodus International, the group that sponsored the event this year.
Kathy Baldock, who runs the CanyonWalker blog, was quite pointed about the motivation behind the “Day of Dialogue.” She recognizes the event as “sacred discrimination,” and thinks it would be “more honest to call it the ‘Seventh Annual Tell the Gay Kids They Need to Change for God to Love Them Day.”
Day of Dialogue was instituted by a distinctly anti-gay group, transferred to a ministry that until recently promised orientation change, and is now overseen by Focus on the Family whose official stance is to not include federal protections of children for sexual orientation and gender identity.
Oh, and that’s not all . . . . Focus on the Family founded the Family Research Council (FRC) in 1983 as the political arm of Focus and, in 1992, FRC became its own entity and was immediately extremely active in anti-gay activities, producing the horribly biased, myth-filled video series “The Gay Agenda in America.” FRC, also on the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Hate Groups list, is currently the most vocal conservative group with its tendrils in every same-sex marriage vote. Along with Focus, they actively oppose federal anti-discrimination bills that would protect children from harassment due to sexual orientation or gender identity.
Believe it or not, Focus on the Family is tame by comparison to other groups. The American Family Association has encouraged parents to keep their children home from school as a way to “de-politicize the learning environment.” Apparently, the AFA is okay with “politicizing” the learning environment for their own cause, but not for others. After all, they certainly aren’t opposed to the Don’t Say Gay bill or the idea of keeping “intelligent design” out of schools. Aparently, truancy is okay with them as well.
And then there’s Truth in Action Ministries, the guys who said that gays were the “iceberg” that’s “out to sink” the great ship of America which is the Titanic. Or something. In a classic game of “let’s see how long it takes for us to be labeled a hate group because we lie so much,” they laid it all out in a recent radio program. Truth that Transforms host Carmen Pate threw out the opening salvo:
As we talk about the radical homosexual agenda and their attempts to take their agenda into the public school, we see evidence day in and day out in the news, in activities that are coming up in public schools, activities that are put together by an organization called Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network. They seem to be set on taking their agenda and teaching our children that their lifestyle is actually an inherent identity. How do you see this infiltrating our children’s school systems?
Her guest, Jerry Newcombe, took that ball of blathering and ran with it:
It’s something where they are basically taking a legitimate concern, which is that of bullying, and they are using that serious problem that does happen as an opportunity by which they will then promote and essentially indoctrinate children and expose children to the acceptability of the homosexual lifestyle. Now bullying is wrong but so also is indoctrination into a deadly lifestyle and frankly homosexuality is a deadly lifestyle and that fact is withheld from the children.
Not satisfied that he had made his point about how evil he thinks the Day of Silence really is, he later added this little tidbit:
It’s sad to see groups like GLSEN be accepted by the teacher’s establishment and then allow the platform to go into the public schools and try and indoctrinate children. For example, they have something called the Day of Silence. Now they chose April 20 of all days to be the Day of Silence, I looked that up, I was like, ‘isn’t that Adolf Hitler’s birthday,’ I looked it up and sure enough it is Adolf Hitler’s birthday. I don’t think there’s a link there but how ironic. But they are using this day as a means by which to promote their lifestyle as if it is a positive thing.
He doesn’t want us to think that supporting the Day of Silence is somehow linked to being Adolf Hitler’s birthday, but it sure is interesting! Hey, look! It’s Adolf Hitler’s birthday! On April 20th! The Day of Silence! No, I don’t think there’s a link. But hey, it’s Adolf Hitler’s birthday!
Let me change the words of Newcombe’s guilt-by-association diatribe a bit. He doesn’t want us to “think there’s a link,” but he sure does make it “interesting.” Try this on for size: Hey look! There’s a big pink elephant next to a car lot. I don’t think pink elephants have anything to do with car lots, but it sure is interesting! Hey! It’s a pink elephant! Don’t think about a pink elephant!
What did you think of? Yep. A pink elephant.
Why is it that when these groups try to convince us they don’t hate the LGBT community, that they go so far out of the way to prove themselves wrong?