Truancy Trumps Tolerance: Religious Right Tells Kids ’Stay Home Today’
What can you say to strike fear into the dark hearts of the pro-bullying religious right? If the panic over today’s National Day of Silence is any indication, the answer is "nothing."
The religious right panic machine has been in overdrive this week over the annual National Day of Silence to combat bullying. Today, students across the country, from middle school to college, take a vow of silence in an effort to encourage schools and classmates to address the problem of anti-LGBT behavior by illustrating the silencing effect of bullying and harassment on LGBT students and those perceived to be LGBT.
The event, which started as a grassroots event at the University of Virginia in 1996 and grew to national prominence under the umbrella of the Gay Lesbian & Straight Education Network in 2001, is the largest single student-led action towards creating safer schools for all, regardless of sexual or identity.
Linda Harvey of Christian radio Mission America and author of the widely discredited anti-gay tome "Maybe He’s Not Gay," urged her listeners to pull their students out of school on Friday lest they be "recruited" by homosexual propaganda. In her radio address, she said:
"Because of alarming and deceptive messages surrounding the Day of Silence, many Christian groups - Mission America included - are urging parents to keep your children home from school that day unless you have assurances that the school is not bending its rules. Some schools allow student organizers to widely promote the Day of Silence and homosexuality while recruiting others to participate. Here’s why I say it’s deceptive: the Day of Silence is sadly a day of pro-homosexual propaganda in schools."
Harvey goes on to say:
Students pledge to remain silent all day in order to protest what they believe has been the silencing of homosexuals and bullying that isn’t being punished, those who choose to be homosexual or switch genders are the victims and we’re all bullies or potential bullies if we don’t accept this premise. But we should not accept this premise because it wrongly communicates that homosexuality is honorable and respectable and that it’s inborn like race. But that’s’ not true. No one, especially young people, should take on this identity and behavior. It’s a high-risk life that dishonors God and the way He created us.
In an interview Vocativ, Monica Cole, head of One Million Moms, had this to say about the Day of Silence event:
Many Christians will stay at home. They won’t go to school that day because they don’t want to participate in something that they feel like they’re being forced to participate in," says Cole. "Because in scripture it does say that if you participate or agree with something, it’s the same as sinning yourself.
Southern Poverty Law Center designated anti-gay hate groups American Family Association, Abiding Truth Ministries, Illinois Family Institute, Concerned Women for America, Liberty Counsel and MassResistance are among the 35 Christian organizations encouraging truancy on Friday.
A primitive website, www.doswalkout.net published by Illinois Family Institute explains the dangers of silence to parents.
Conversely, Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays & Gays (PFOX) are encouraging parents to send their children to school today to distribute flyers about the ex-gay movement.
The PFOX email appeal reads:
"Since members of gay-affirming clubs agree to remain silent for the day, April 11 is the ideal time to distribute ex-gay information in the true spirit of tolerance as supporters seek respect and affirmation for ex-gays,"
"We encourage everyone to print these flyers and distribute them at their schools on April 11 and whenever a gay event is featured in order to promote equality, diversity and safety."
"Since many students are now encouraged to identify as ’gay’ at an early age, the flyer explains that children do not have to prematurely label their entire future lives as ’gay.’ All mainstream organizations admit that sexuality can be fluid and change over time - sexual preference is not fixed. The flyer also discourages bullying and name calling."
Who’s recruiting now?