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Day of Silence and Various Responses

Timothy Kincaid

April 13th, 2009

In an effort to reduce bullying and to encourage tolerance, the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network created a program called The Day of Silence in which students show their sympathy for harassed gay students by pledging to be silent for a day. Those who “oppose the homosexual agenda” have responded in a number of ways.

I will briefly compare the various responses:

DAY OF SILENCE

Sponsor: Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network

Participants: Hundreds of thousands of students in over 8,000 schools

Purpose: The Day of Silence’s purpose is to bring attention to anti-LGBT name-calling, bullying and harassment and effective responses.

Date: Friday, April 17, 2009

Length of Program: Thirteenth year

Process: Participants take a day long vow of silence and distribute or wear speaking cards with information about anti-LGBT bias and ways for students and others to “end the silence.” Through Breaking the Silence events, which are typically held at the end of the school day, students can speak out against harassment and demand change for their schools and communities. Students do speak when required by class participation.

Message: What are you doing to end the Silence?

Handout:

Please understand my reasons for not speaking today. I am participating in the Day of Silence (DOS), a national youth movement bringing attention to the silence faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and their allies. My deliberate silence echoes that silence, which is caused by anti-LGBT bullying, name-calling and harassment. I believe that ending the silence is the fi rst step toward building awareness and making a commitment to address these injustices. Think about the voices you are not hearing today.

What are you going to do to end the Silence?

Response to Objection: In high schools, approval from the principal or other appropriate staff is important when student organizers are working on any project. When approaching your school’s administration, it helps to have the backing of a student club and its advisor(s). If your administration does not approve of or support the Day of Silence, you may want to consider planning a community event outside of school, in the morning or evening.

Theme: To draw attention to the abuse or bullying of GLBT people who are often silenced by social disapproval and unable to defend themselves alone.

DAY OF TRUTH

Sponsor: Created by the Alliance Defense Fund. Currently administered by ex-gay group Exodus International.

Participants: Up to 13,000 students

Length of Program: Fifth year

Stated Purpose: The Day of Truth was established to counter the promotion of the homosexual agenda and express an opposing viewpoint from a Christian perspective. (It is a direct response to the Day of Silence).

Date: The Day of Truth is scheduled for April 20, 2009. This is three days after GLSEN (The Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network) will sponsor the “Day of Silence.”

Process: Participating students are encouraged to wear Day of Truth T-shirts, pass out cards, tell students about the evils of homosexuality, and inform same-sex attracted students about reorientation programs.

Message: It’s time for an honest conversation about homosexuality. There’s freedom to change if you want to. The truth cannot be silenced.

Handout:

I’m speaking the Truth to break the silence.
True tolerance means that people with differing — even opposing — viewpoints can freely exchange ideas and respectfully listen to each other.
It’s time for an honest conversation about homosexuality.
There’s freedom to change if you want to.
Let’s talk.

Response to Objection: If the principal or other school official asks you to stop, stop immediately. Please call 1-800-TELL-ADF so that we can help resolve the situation quickly.

Theme: Rather than encourage gay-specific anti-bullying programs, gay students should be encouraged to enter ex-gay programs.

‘DAY OF SILENCE’ WALK OUT

Sponsor: A long list of anti-gay activist groups including Americans for Truth (Peter LaBarbera), Liberty Counsel (Matt Barber), Mission: America (Linda Harvey), and SPLC-listed hate groups MassResistance, Illinois Family Institute (Laurie Higgins), and Abiding Truth Ministries (Scott Lively).

Participants: unknown number of parents. In 2008, 600 students were kept home from a school in Washington

Length of Program: uncertain, perhaps second year

Stated Purpose: To actively oppose this hijacking of the classroom for political purposes and no longer passively accept the political usurpation of taxpayer funded public school classrooms through student silence

Date: April 17, 2009, the same day as the Day of Silence

Process: Parents are encouraged to express their opposition to the Day of Silence by calling their children out of school on that day and sending letters of explanation to their administrators, their children’s teachers, and all school board members.

Public school teachers are encouraged to plan activities for this day that involve student speech: Schedule speeches or oral exams; ask questions; or plan discussion-based activities
that require participation from all students.

Church leadership is encouraged to follow the bold example of Pastor Ken Hutcherson who vocally opposed the “Day of Silence” in his community in Redmond, Washington. (Hutcherson is threatening to oppose school bonds if Mt. Si allows students to participate in the Day of Silence again this year).

Message: Students being silent is disruptive and ought not be tolerated.

Handout: none indicated.

Response to Objection: Explain that school districts lose money for every absence, which may help convince administrations and school boards that it is not merely unethical but fiscally irresponsible to allow the classroom to be used for political purposes.

Theme: Fighting the homosexual agenda.

GOLDEN RULE PLEDGE

Sponsor: Dr. Warren Throckmorton, with some support from Campus Crusade for Christ Regional Director, Michael Frey and Bob Stith, National Strategist for Gender Issues, Southern Baptist Convention.

Length of Program: Second year

Stated Purpose: To provide a response for Christian and conservative students who do not affirm homosexual behavior but also loathe disrespect, harassment or violence toward any one, including their GLBT peers.

Date: April 17, 2009, the same day as the Day of Silence

Process: To answer the Day of Silence’s question with a commitment the safety of GLBT students and peers as well as other who appear different based on the teachings of Christ.

A variety of options exist on the DOS, including silence. Whatever option one chooses, we do not encourage protests, divisive actions or criticism of others. One way to live out our faith is to treat others fairly and with respect.

Message: Do to others as you would have them do to you. (Luke 6:31).

Handout:

This is what I’m doing:
I pledge to treat others the way I want to be treated.
Will you join me in this pledge?
“Do to others as you would have them do to you.” (Luke 6:31).

Response to Objection: None indicated.

Theme: To draw attention to the appropriate response of Christians when they are asked for respect and protection.

UPDATE: The previous version listed Americans for Truth (Peter LaBarbera) as a hate group and did not list Illinois Family Institute (Laurie Higgins) as such. These have now been reversed.

Comments

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Bill S
April 13th, 2009 | LINK

So the message of the ADF and Exodus is, “If you don’t like being harrassed and picked on, quit being a homo”?
I was right. They ARE pro-bullying.

Kristie
April 13th, 2009 | LINK

Message: Students being silent is disruptive and ought not be tolerated.

This statement struck me as so totally backward that I had to laugh. As far as most teachers I know are concerned silence in the classroom is a rare and beautiful thing which happens far too infrequently for their liking. And even if that silence is happening for some personal political belief, I think most teachers would find it a blessing, not a disruption.

Alex
April 13th, 2009 | LINK

“Participating students are encouraged to…tell students about the evils of homosexuality…”

So ADF and Exodus believe that by telling students that gays and lesbians are evil, then anti-gay bullying in our public schools will decrease. How stupid can these people be?!

Trovore
April 13th, 2009 | LINK

Response: FORCE those obnoxious silent brats to speak! Silence is disruptive.

Somebody has clearly gone off the deep end…

HappyCat
April 13th, 2009 | LINK

And the Christofacists say they don’t like the labels, Bigot, Haters, Homophobes and Liars. The ADF accomplishes the earning of these labels in less than one page. The DOS is not only for LGBT students, it is for all students. And they wonder why church attendance is down as well as the amount of people who Identify as Christian. Christians have become the home nest of hatred.

Jason D
April 13th, 2009 | LINK

I cannot grasp the mentality that says that a child is partially responsible for being the victim of bullying.

Seriously, someone explain this to me, was there a Supreme Court case that established that bullying was protected by the first amendment? Is there some part of the Bill of Rights that protects the right to harass and terrorize? Has science established bullies as an essential part of the ecosystem?

It’s almost like Administrators wish they could be the ones bullying the kids personally, so they aren’t interested in helping the victim. Or they have some screwed up macho bullsh!t that says bullying is somehow necessary part of growing up. That interfering in a situation hurts someone somehow. I really don’t get it. We have kids murdering each other over this issue, and STILL we have administrators who do nothing. What are they afraid of? Who are they protecting?

grantdale
April 13th, 2009 | LINK

All well and good, but that “Golden Rule” to people like Warren Throckmorton also means being free to publiclytreat people like the evil sinners he thinks they are.

If he was doing what we are, he would expect the same negative treatment he hopes we are experiencing. He doesn’t want us to be treated badly, of course, but if we behave badly… like, behave like the homosexual we are … what else should we otherwise expect but abuse??? It’s not his fault if people were to treat us like dirt — he’s only fighting for their right to do so.

And that is how they end up with their particular version of the Golden Rule: treat people like you would expect to be treated, if you were them.

Ah, yes… real clever that deliberate and dishonest twisting of words…

I really do not want people committing to treat me like the evil sinner they think I am. I would instead appreciate them making a commitment to mind their own business.

Which, of course, they cannot.

Timothy Kincaid
April 13th, 2009 | LINK

grantdale,

There is absolutely no basis to your claim that Warren Throckmorton thinks we “should expect abuse”.

And the Golden Rule Pledge he’s offering makes very clear that it is a Christian’s responsiblity to treat others the way they want to be treated; not, as you claim, “the way you would expect to be treated, if you were them.

You don’t have to like Dr. Throckmorton.

Nor do you have to agree with his theology or his politics. I certainly don’t.

But what you are saying about him and the Golden Rule Pledge is flatly untrue and unfair.

If you have any evidence whatsoever that the Golden Rule Pledge supports abuse or some distorted definition of the golden rule, feel free to link to the source. Otherwise please do not make false claims about it at Box Turtle Bulletin.

hb
April 13th, 2009 | LINK

Note: Errors in you listing of the sponsors of Day of Silence Walk Out. American’s for Truth (Peter Labarbera) is not a listed hate group – although it should be. Illinois Family Institute, however, is.

John
April 13th, 2009 | LINK

Like grantdale, I am no particular fan of Throckmorton’s “Golden Rule.” I think that it is just another attempt to take attention away from protecting students that either are or are percieved as gay or lesbian in schools by promoting some general “be nice” concept that ignores the very students that need the protection.

Under Theme we have the following:Theme: To draw attention to the appropriate response of Christians when they are asked for respect and protection.

The appropriate response should be, “Yes, we believe that gays and lesbians deserve to be protected in school and we support your efforts and would never do anything to try and muddy the waters and take attention away from your efforts to promote a safe enviornment for kids.”

Timothy Kincaid
April 14th, 2009 | LINK

hb,

Thanks for the correction. I’ll revise the order above.

Truth Wins Out - Exodus, Focus on the Family Defend Violent Status-Quo in Schools
April 14th, 2009 | LINK

[...] Box Turtle Bulletin offers a detailed analysis of each campaign by self-styled Christians to defend antigay violence and oppose positive steps to restore safe learning in schools. [...]

Timothy (TRiG)
April 15th, 2009 | LINK

Jay has a post on the Day of Silence and the Golden Rule Pledge at CollegeJay. I’m not sure what I think myself.

TRiG.

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