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Posts for November, 2010

Focus on the Family picks up “Day of Truth”

Timothy Kincaid

November 11th, 2010

The Day of Truth, conservative Christianity’s response to the Day of Silence, is moving to it’s third home in two years. While the Day of Silence has always been about recognizing the way in which gay students are silenced by culture, bullying and misunderstanding, the Day of Truth has had trouble identifying its message, meaning or audience.

The Day of Truth was originally started by Alliance Defense Fund as a tool to provoke confrontation between conservative Christian kids and their public school administrators. In 2004, Tyler Chase Harper wore a t-shirt to Poway High School on the Day of Silence which expressed his disagreement with recognizing the concerns of gay students. The front read “Be Ashamed” and “Our School Embraced What God Has Condemned,” and on the back, “Homosexuality is Shameful” and “Romans 1:27.”

When Harper was required to remove his message of condemnation, the ADF picked up his case claiming that his rights to freedom of religion and expression were being violated. The following year they rolled out the Day of Truth (“the truth cannot be silenced”) to encourage more students to protest the Day of Silence, but on the following day. A handy referral number to attorneys-standing-by was included, giving a none-to-subtle hint of the purpose of the event.

The first year was not particularly successful. And litigation on the Harper case was revealing that courts were not finding that he had a right to disparage fellow student in the public schools, so ADF decided to take a different approach.

In 2006, ADF shifted focus slightly. While their efforts continued to “counter the promotion of the homosexual agenda and express an opposing viewpoint from a Christian perspective” they also began guiding gay students towards ex-gay efforts. Softening the message of being anti-gay with a flavoring of “help for those struggling with homosexuality”, there was hope that Christian students would feel adequately justified in encouraging the culture of condemnation of homosexuality.

But “there’s hope for them” messages don’t really inspire teens. It takes stronger emotions, like compassion or contempt, to really get through. So while Day of Silence continued to spread with it’s “don’t bully” message, the Day of Truth’s vaguer “we disagree but don’t call us bigots” campaign struggled.

Contributing to DoT’s difficulties was an onslaught of competing messages from other conservative Christians. As early as 2006, those who wanted a stronger, militant, and more hostile message proposed alternative responses. That year PFOX (a sort of PFLAG for parents who refused to accept that their kids are gay) and Liberty Counsel (ADF’s wackier cousin anti-gay law firm) proposed a “Change is Possible Campaign“.

That didn’t really fly, but other alternatives were proposed. In 2008, Pastor Ken Hutchinson in Washington led a campaign to encourage students to stay home on the Day of Silence. Now “stay home from school” was a message that kids could take to heart and nearly a third of Mt Si High students played hookie. So in 2009, a number of the more extreme anti-gay activists attempted to take the stay-home protest nationwide. It failed.

But Day of Truth was hit with another challenge, one they likely did not expect. Dr. Warren Throckmorton challenged the premise that the Christian obligation was to defend bullies. He proposed that the way Christian kids should respond to the plight of anti-gay bullying is not with protest but with compassion and support. His Golden Rule Pledge allowed Christian kids to keep their religious code of sexual ethics but to pledge to treat gay kids the way they would want to be treated.

Bracketed by contrasting calls for more condemnation and more compassion, the Day of Truth was confronted by its worst enemy: a lack of interest. Secular newspapers found them slightly distasteful, but not enough to be shocking and newsworthy. And even religious news sources couldn’t find anything new or interesting to say about their efforts. So, after four years, Alliance Defense Fund had had enough.

In January 2009, ADF gifted Exodus International with the Day of Truth.

This was a bit of an awkward fit. Exodus, the umbrella ex-gay organization, was at this time going through a reevaluation of their interaction with the gay community. Although they had in the past become quite involved in anti-gay political efforts, they were recommitting their focus to those who “struggle with unwanted homosexuality” and stepping back from activism. So instead of a day dedicated to “countering the homosexual agenda”, the Day of Truth now morphed into a lukewarm ex-gay appeal. (Baptist Press)

As part of Monday’s Day of Truth students will pass out cards during non-class time with a message, which says in part, “It’s time for an honest conversation about homosexuality. There’s freedom to change if you want to.”

The 2010 Day of Truth was somewhat uneventful. Years of squabbling over the message and ownership of the opposition to the Day of Silence had worn everyone out and it may also be that by this time Exodus’ heart just wasn’t in it.

And Exodus’ continued introspection and evolution had them backing away from talk about “change”. The Jones and Yarhouse Study update had come out and it was pretty clear that “freedom to change if you want to” was no longer a viable claim. So, yet again, the message shifted – this time to mutual respect and conversation about sexual ethics.

This year’s theme for the Day of Truth is “Get the Conservation Started.” Students can wear T-shirts and pass out cards with the message: “People with differing, even opposing, viewpoints can freely exchange ideas and respectfully listen to each other. It’s time for an honest conversation about the biblical truth for sexuality. Let’s get the conversation started!”

And then came September 2010 and report after report of teens committing suicide after experiencing anti-gay bullying. It was, no doubt, extremely troubling to Exodus. Many of the leaders in Exodus have over the year expressed how they were bullied in school and I’m sure they found it easy to see themselves in these kids. And while the nation was shocked by the string of incidents, it is without doubt that Exodus found the news to be horrifyingly personal.

In October 2010, Alan Chambers, president of Exodus, jettisoned the event.

“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.

With neither ADF or Exodus wanting to continue, it was uncertain whether they would be a seventh Day of Truth or, if so, who would lead it and what the message would be. But now it appears that the Day of Truth will be picked up by Focus on the Family and renamed and repackaged. (CNN)

A major Christian group will take over an annual event that challenges homosexuality, weeks after the event’s main Christian sponsor pulled support for the student-focused program, saying it had become too divisive and confrontational.

Focus on the Family, an influential evangelical organization, will begin sponsoring the event known as the Day of Truth but will change the name of the happening to the Day of Dialogue, the group is set to announce Thursday.

And it appears that yet again, the Day’s message will change. If statements by FotF’s Candi Cushman are indicative, the Day of Dialogue will readopt strident anti-gay messaging and take a more aggressive political stance.

“We’re trying to raise awareness that more than one side needs to be heard on the issue of homosexuality, and we’re helping to ensure Christian students have the chance to express their viewpoint,” said Candi Cushman, a Focus on the Family education analyst, in the release. “What is freedom of speech, after all, but a guarantee of the right to have dialogue?”

Focus on the Family in general and Candi Cushman in particular have a long history of expressing the “Christian viewpoint on homosexuality” and it has never been in terms that were sympathetic of bullied children or tolerant of others. It is highly doubtful that respect for differing viewpoints will be the theme of the Day of Dialogue – Focus doesn’t “diologue” that way.

I hope that I’m wrong. Early press releases on their sponsorship emphasize “love” as much as they do “truth”.

As these verses demonstrate, the model Christ gave us is one of sacrificial love that lays down one’s own life to rescue others. So Day of Dialogue activities should always reflect that spirit. Any verbal and written expressions used by students participating in this event should be loving and compassionate—and never be expressed in a condemning or antagonistic way to others. Even when we disagree with others, we should always demonstrate the utmost compassion and respect for them.

But far too often, Focus’ perspective of what is “loving” and that of the target of their “love” can be diametrically opposed. And if their new Day of Dialogue is an extension of their “True Tolerance” program, we can expect a rather obvious absence of truth, tolerance and love, sacrificial or otherwise, and in their place a call to reverse and remove the anti-bullying programs that are trying to provide support to LGBT youth. While Exodus found empathy for bullied kids, Focus identifies with the bullies.

In fact, we already know pretty much what Focus has in mind – confrontation and stereotypes:

It’s very politically incorrect these days to talk about male-female differences. If you want to see a good argument develop, just ask a group of students if there even are any differences. The unique and wonderful complementary qualities of masculinity and femininity have been blurred so that many see men and women as virtually interchangeable. Or the differences get exaggerated into over-the-top caricatures. But despite these distortions, we still see God’s separation of humanity into male and female, different but complementary, and equally of great value.

That, and fun things like the assertion that no one is really gay, or that “homosexual and “transgender” rights activists continue to do everything in their power to radically deconstruct the traditional and biblical understanding of sexuality, gender and marriage across all arenas of culture.

So it seems that the Day of Truth has come full circle, back to a day of confrontation and condemnation. I doubt that it will be well received.

Exodus International Returns “Day Of Truth” Sponsorship To ADF

Jim Burroway

October 6th, 2010

[Update: The original headline for this post read, "Exodus International Ends 'Day Of Truth' Sponsorship." The headline and content of this post has been updated based on this statement from Exodus International]

David Roberts at Ex-Gay Watch reports that Exodus International will no longer sponsor the “Day of Truth,” an event designed to counter the Day of Silence in which students remain silent for a day to call attention to anti-LGBT bullying and harassment in schools. According to Roberts:

[Exodus International president Alan] Chambers confirmed to XGW that the activist component of the DOT contributed to a polarizing debate rather than a relational dialogue.  “As a tool, it seemed to emphasize the divide rather than building a bridge,” he said.  “We want more than that.”

Exodus now confirms that they are returning the Day of Truth back to the Alliance Defense Fund, who started the event in 1996 2005. Exodus International vice president Randy Thomas writes that “ADF will likely find another group to run the event or end it altogether.”

Day of Truth, which takes place on the day following the Day of Silence, is intended “to counter the promotion of the homosexual agenda and express an opposing viewpoint from a Christian perspective.” Exodus International’s ex-gay message was an integral part of the “Day of Truth’s” message, and in later years became the dominant part. It only made sense then for Exodus to take over sponsorship of Day of Truth from the ADF in 2009.

In August, Exodus announced several cutbacks due to higher expenses (they had bought their office building at the height of the real estate bubble) and lower donations. It is estimated that they were facing about a 12% budget shortfall from the previous year.

According to the Exodus announcement, they had decided to end their leadership of the event last April, but didn’t officially notify ADF of their decision last week. Despite making the decision last April, it appears that Exodus sees the attention being paid to the September Suicides as an opportunity to cast their decision in a more positive light:

“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.

The web site for Day of Truth, as of this writing, is in “maintenance mode.” The next Day of Silence is scheduled for April 15, 2011.

Laurie Higgins Endorses the Bullying of Gay Kids

Timothy Kincaid

April 17th, 2009

Illinois Family Institute is only one of 12 anti-gay groups assigned Hate Group status by the Southern Poverty Law Center. It is a well deserved designation.

Laurie Higgins, the Director of the Division of School Advocacy for the Illinois Family Institute, gives voice to the attitudes and beliefs that have led to IFI being identified as a hate group. Laurie is also one of the organizers of the Day of Silence Walk Out.

She is not pleased that Dr. Warren Throckmorton is suggesting that Christian kids should treat gay kids as they wish to be treated. She is angry that he wants them to stay in school on the Day of Silence. And she is particularly irate that Throckmorton opposes the abuse of gay kids.

In her article, Dr. Throckmorton’s “Golden Rule” Misguided at Best, Higgins makes minimal lip service to “the worthy goal of ending bullying, but it’s quite clear that she does not at all wish that the bullying of gay kids should end at all.

“So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets,” means that Christians should affirm to others God’s Word–the entirety of God’s Word–in a godly way.

Higgins declares that the Golden Rule means the exact opposite of what it says. Rather than do unto others as you’d have them do to you, she endorses the “affirming God’s Word” (ie public condemnation and ridicule) of others “in a godly way”. It is difficult to fathom a more perverse interpretation of Christ’s commandment.

[If] we allow schools to define discrimination so expansively as to prohibit all statements of moral conviction, character development is compromised and speech rights are trampled. And if administrators continue to define discrimination in such a way as to preclude only some statements of moral conviction, they violate pedagogical commitments to intellectual diversity and render the classroom a place of indoctrination.

Higgins supports discrimination, as long as it is based on “moral conviction”.

Dr. Throckmorton believes that “Christian students should be leading the way to make schools safe and build bridges to those who often equate ‘Christian’ with condemnation.” In this statement, Dr. Throckmorton glaringly omits the truth that Christians must condemn volitional homosexual conduct. And to those who view homosexuality as moral, this necessary Christian condemnation of homosexual behavior renders homosexual students unsafe.

Yes, Higgins actually supports making schools unsafe for gay kids.

She believes that “Christians must condemn volitional homosexual conduct.” In other words, Christian kids have a moral obligation to harangue and harass gay kids and publicly condemn them.

[As] moral beings living for a time in a fallen world suffused with brokenness of all kinds, we are all charged with the same moral task: We all must determine which of our myriad messy feelings are morally legitimate to act upon. Adults are supposed to help children navigate those murky waters.

Higgins believes that adults – teachers and administrators – should also condemn gay kids.

Let’s be clear. Higgins does not oppose the Day of Silence because it is the wrong way to go about ending the bullying of gay kids. Rather, Higgins opposes the Day of Silence because she believes it is a Christian kid’s duty to bully his gay classmates.

Alan Chambers will say ANYTHING

Timothy Kincaid

April 16th, 2009

The Baptist Press says this about Alan Chambers, president of Exodus International:

For Chambers, the Day of Truth is personal. He struggled with and overcame unwanted homosexual attractions as a teenager and young adult. He is now married, and he and his wife and have two children.

“Many people don’t know that change is possible or that there’s any alternative out there for people,” he said. “… There was a time when I was trying to fit that with my life, trying to marry my homosexuality and my Christianity and trying to see if I could be a good gay Christian. It didn’t work.”

Really? Alan overcame unwanted homosexual attractions as a teenager and young adult? And his wife and children are evidence of this?

Now that’s a fascinating retelling.

Because I also happen to know that Alan has said that while his attraction has greatly diminished over the course of 16 years, he still struggles with homosexual temptation and lives a life of denial of what comes naturally to him. And it seems that in their effort to paint Alan as an ideal family man they forgot to mention that Alan took nine months to consummate his marriage or that his two children are adopted.

If Alan’s going to tell kids about the “alternative out there for people”, he should tell them what that alternative really is. But I guess telling the truth wouldn’t serve his goal of vilifying and hindering those good-hearted students who are trying to stem the flood of abuse against their gay classmates in public schools.

Sentinel Op-Ed on “Day of Truth”

Gabriel Arana

April 16th, 2009

There are opposing editorial pieces in today’s Orlando Sentinel about Exodus’ “Day of Truth.” On the “Day of Truth,” which takes place three days after the Day of Silence, Exodus encourages students to pass out note cards and wear t-shirts declaring the “truth” about homosexuality. They also offer to have a “conversation” about it.

One of the pieces is written by me, the other by Alan Chambers, president of Exodus International. The Sentinel doesn’t let you see opposing op-eds before they are printed, so I’d like to respond here.

Chambers’ tactic is to elicit sympathy for those “tormented by their sexuality”:

I hear from them every day. I hear about the jokes they endure from ignorant and unfeeling friends. I hear about the rejection they fear.

Then, he identifies the source:

I hear about the pressure they feel to identify themselves as gay and how that pressure conflicts with what they believe and know in their hearts.

So people struggling with their identity suffer because they are pressured to identify as gay? When distilled from the column, this sounds ridiculous, and it is. Students are of course mocked for being effeminate, but it’s not because they refuse to come out; it’s because being gay is stigmatized in many places. The real source of all the jokes is anti-gay animus like that espoused by Exodus International. They are making the problem worse, not better.

Here are Chambers’ hopes for the “Day of Truth”:

I hope they will talk about how everyone needs to be empowered with more information, not less. I hope they will talk about every person’s right to determine his own course in life. I hope they will talk about how to show compassion to their gay and lesbian peers. I hope they will talk about the thousands of men and women, like me, who are living beyond the gay life we once thought was our only future. It’s a conversation I wish I could have had back then.

Basically, Chambers thinks homosexuality is a sickness that others aren’t compassionate about. The solution? Send them to ex-gay therapy so they can fix it. The call for “more information” is incredibly disingenuous given that anti-gay groups like Exodus do everything they can to discredit scientific organizations that disagree with their views on homosexuality. This is false compassion; at heart, it’s borne of the prejudiced assumption that being gay is something wrong. Who wants to engage in a conversation about how they are disordered?

Chambers is trying to portray his movement as one that seeks to help people, but the website reveals their real aim: “to counter the homosexual agenda.”

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.

ADF Hands “Day Of Truth” Over To Exodus

Daniel Gonzales

January 22nd, 2009

Those familiar with the ex-gay movement have long known Alliance Defense Fund’s (ADF) “Day Of Truth” is not only a reaction to the “Day Of Silence” but also a thinly veiled effort to push ex-gay programs in public schools. Well ADF has gone and made it official, handing over the Day Of Truth to Exodus via an email and press release dated Jan 20, 2009.

The Alliance Defense is transitioning its leadership of the Day of Truth initiative to Exodus International.

[snip]

the Day of Truth has grown from a handful of students to over 13,000 participants in all 50 states standing for the Truth. As the movement has grown, the focus has continued to broaden…providing students not only with legal assistance when their free speech rights are challenged, but also providing them with information on how to minister and witness to individuals struggling with homosexual behavior.

It’s because of growth in this latter area that this transition is occurring. For more than thirty years, Exodus International has provided thoughtful care to individuals wishing to leave homosexuality and offered support for related families, friends and churches. With 230 member organizations, the Exodus network is mobilizing the body of Christ to minister grace and truth to a world impacted by homosexuality…perfectly positioning them to lead the Day of Truth into the future.

ADF will continue to serve as the legal support arm for this project and represent any student who is silenced or punished for speaking the Truth.

For a little background on the Day Of Truth, how it was founded and it’s troubling ex-gay rhetoric have a look at this video.

YouTube Preview Image

(Please note I created this video before Love In Action closed their teen ex-gay bootcamp. Other than that everything in the video is accurate.)

Was the “Day of Truth” a Day of Silence?

Timothy Kincaid

April 29th, 2008

The Day of Truth, the ADF’s anti-gay response to the Day of Silence, was yesterday. If it happened.

In the days leading up to the Day of Silence, it seemed that the conservative Christian right only mentioned the DOT as an afterthought and seemed more interested in getting kids to stay home. Perhaps they believe it easier to get a teenager to play hookie on a spring Friday than it is to get them to wear a t-shirt and pass out material condemning their classmates.

In any case, I’ve not yet seen any news coverage of this event, even from religious media.

Also missing is any comment as to whether Alexander Nuxoll wore his “Be Happy, Not Gay” T-Shirt either on the Day of Silence or the Day of Truth. Perhaps his ardent desire to be obnoxious is more sincere when in court with the ADF than it is when facing his classmates.

See also:
T-Shirt Wars: A Temporary Victory for the Mean Spirited
T-Shirt Wars: Appeals
Arizona House Passes Bigot Protection Act
Anti-Gay T-Shirt Wars

Truth In Upcoming “Day Of Truth” Hard To Find

A Box Turtle Bulletin Original Video

Daniel Gonzales

April 21st, 2008

The religious right legal group Alliance Defense Fund started an anti-gay “Day of Truth” in response to the pro-gay “Day of Silence.” The “Day of Truth” is little more than an excuse to push ex-gay misinformation on queer youth in public schools which prompted me to make a video examining and mocking ideas promoted by the “Day of Truth.”

YouTube Preview Image

Anti-Gay T-Shirt Wars

Timothy Kincaid

February 13th, 2008

tshirt_02.jpg
The Alliance Defense Fund is a legal arm of the social conservative movement. They are also the founders and promoters of the Day of Truth, an effort on school campuses to “counter the promotion of the homosexual agenda”. The DOT grew out of efforts to oppose the Day of Silence, a program by gay students and their friends and allies to bring attention to how heterosexism and homophobia silence the voices of the LGBT minority.

The Day of Truth walks a careful line. While they talk about “tolerance for opposing viewpoints” (their anti-gay viewpoints, primarily) and claim that there is “freedom to change”, they stop short of outright attacks on gay students.

But this is not because they want to avoid such attacks. Indeed, the Alliance Defense Fund would like little more than to teach hostility to homosexuality and silence anyone who disagrees. But school boards have restricted the ability of anti-gay students to publicly condemn their fellow students.

ADF is not happy.

They sued.

The best known of these cases is that of Tyler Chase Harper. Young Mr. Harper wore a T-Shirt to his school in the Poway Unified School District in response to the 2004 Day of Silence. His eloquent message was Homosexuality Is Shameful, Romans 1:27″. That didn’t get Harper enough attention, so the next day he ratcheted up his message to “Be Ashamed” and “Our School Embraced What God Has Condemned.”

On the second day, school administrators told him that he could not wear a message that was overtly hostile to other students and asked him to remove the statement – which had been added to his plain black T-Shirt with masking tape. Harper refuse and, with the help of ADF, sued his school. (One can’t help but wonder what Harper would have worn the next day if this message did not get his desired result).

The judge found that Harper did not have a case. ADF appealed.

In 2006, a three judge appeals panel found that “the school is permitted to prohibit Harper’s conduct…if it can demonstrate that the restriction was necessary to prevent either the violation of the rights of other students or substantial disruption of school activities.” But they did not rule on the case itself.

In August 2006, the Ninth Circuit appeals court denied en banc review (review by all of the judges). This time the decision was in more direct language.

“Hate speech, whether in the form of a burning cross, or in the form of a call for genocide, or in the form of a tee shirt misusing biblical text to hold gay students to scorn, need not under Supreme Court decisions be given the full protection of the First Amendment in the context of the school environment, where administrators have a duty to protect students from physical or psychological harms.”

In their quest to equate the statement “treat all students with fairness” to “condemn some students based on one’s own religious beliefs”, ADF continued with their lawsuit to overturn restrictions on hostile messages in an environment in which attendance is compulsory. But by the time that the case made its way to the US Supreme Court, Chase Harper graduated and the decision was moot.

However Chase Harper’s little sister Kelsie discovered that she too had a burning drive to condemn her fellow students and the lawsuit was transferred to her.

ADF asked the judge to reconsider his ruling throwing out the case. U.S. District Judge John Houston issued his ruling today. Not surprisingly, he hadn’t changed his mind.

He wrote that a school “interest in protecting homosexual students from harassment is a legitimate pedagogical concern that allows a school to restrict speech expressing damaging statements about sexual orientation and limiting students to expressing their views in a positive manner.”

Interestingly, the ADL is supported by that organization most hated by social conservatives, the American Civil Liberties Union.

David Blair-Loy, legal director for the ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties, said the case is troubling. The ACLU filed a brief in support of Harper’s speech rights – siding with the religious groups that they are often at odds with.

“This theory is a novel and extreme expansion of a school’s rights to limit speech,” Blair-Loy said. Schools potentially could ban any speech they say is “psychologically damaging.”

“And let’s face it: What about high school is not psychologically damaging?” Blair-Loy said. “This student wore a T-shirt that expressed an idea. It’s an idea we don’t agree with at the ACLU, but that is the essence of free speech. It’s not just for ideas you like.”

In the midst of this battle in the Great American Culture War Against Gay People, I think something is being forgotten by both sides. Any ruling that allows social conservatives to attack gay people… also allows other students to attack religion.

If messages are allowed that condemn homosexuality on religious terms, then would not messages that condemn religion on terms of orientation be allowed? Surely they could not disallow “Christianity is a Hateful Religion and those who follow it are Homophobes and Bigots”.

And is it then a far reach from “Homosexuality Is Shameful” to “Catholicism is Idolatry” or “Speaking in Tongues is Satanic”? Would Jews be accused of “killing our Savior”? Would a school with a small Muslim minority be force to subject those students to T-Shirts attacking their faith?

This is not without precedent. In 1984 religious activists pushed the Equal Access Act through Congress so as to allow Bible Clubs on school campuses. It said that if a school allows ANY non-curricular organizations to meet, it has to all ALL non-curricular organizations to meet. This is the piece of legislation that protects Gay-Straight Alliances from being banned by homophobic school administrations – a consequence that Bible Club backers did not intend.

I doubt that ADF or those who support them have thought about the eventual results of their efforts. But, then again, this is a great fund raiser for ADF and I doubt they much care. After all, an anti-Christian T-shirt on some campus would give them another lawsuit for which to request funds and issue press releases.

“How Can Lies Be Truth? – Second Edition”

Video exploring the ex-gay promoting "Day of Truth" is re-released with prologue covering changes since video was originally released.

Daniel Gonzales

November 6th, 2007

Since I first created a youtube film examining the “Day of Truth” a great deal has changed at Love In Action and a great deal has not changed at Exodus International and at the Alliance Defense Fund. Since my video is one of the few internet resources available on the “Day of Truth” I have decided to updated it by adding a prologue explaining developments since it was originally released.

I present “How Can Lies Be Truth? – Second Edition”

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Day Of “Truth”?

Jim Burroway

April 9th, 2007

April 18th is the annual observance of the Day of Silence, a student-run even to bring awareness to the silencing effect that anti-LGBT bullying and discrimination has in the schools. Anti-gay groups are countering that with a so-called “Day of Truth” to be held the following day. Truth Wins Out has released a brand new video featuring Ex-Gay Watch’s Daniel Gonzales which examines the “truthiness” of the “Day of Truth” web site.

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