It’s always strange to me when I see anyone or any group fighting against anything that’s designed to curb bullying. Bullying is one of those things I’d expect everyone would be against.
Except, of course, for the bullies themselves.
The American Family Association is urging parents to keep their students home on April 16th, a date which many students around the country will mark as a “Day of Silence” to raise awareness about bullying, name-calling and harassment on the basis of sexual orientation.
The AFA’s statement reads, in part:
“Many public schools across the nation are planning to allow students affiliated with GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network) to sponsor a “Day of Silence” on April 16.
Cooperating schools will allow students and teachers who support the homosexual agenda to remain silent during instructional time. The AFA is joining many other pro-family organizations around the country in calling for families to pull their students out of participating schools that day.
AFA president Tim Wildmon said, “No school should allow an organization like GLSEN to hijack classroom instructional time for political purposes. This turns taxpayer-funded government schools into propaganda forums for promoting homosexuality and cross-dressing. No right-thinking school officials should allow the educational environment to be prostituted in this way.”
I admit it: for a short time, I actually fell for it. I immediately found myself concerned about teachers sitting behind their desks for an entire class saying absolutely nothing, leaving students without any instruction at all. At the same time, it bothered me to think that students would interrupt class time being disruptive through refusing to answer questions if asked just to make a point.
Not that the cause doesn’t deserve attention; but that didn’t seem like a reasonable way to drive that point home.
Since I’m the kind of guy who actually looks things up at myth-busting sites like Snopes.com when things don’t look exactly right, I decided to do a little research.
When you go to the Day of Silence’s official website, however, you get a very different description of what is planned:
“You DO have a right to participate in Day of Silence and other expressions of your opinion at a public school during non-instructional time: the breaks between classes, before and after the school day, lunchtime, and any other free times during your day. You do NOT have a right to remain silent during class time if a teacher asks you to speak. We recommend that you talk to your teachers ahead of time, tell them what you plan to do, and ask them if it would be okay for you to communicate on that day in writing. (ACLU)”
Did you catch that last part? Yes, friends, it’s the ACLU — the organization so many right-wingers love to hate — that’s actually fighting against the kind of disruptive protest the AFA is describing as factual.
As for the day itself, and the need for it, the organization’s website reports that two of the top three reasons students cite as causes for bullying and harassment in the classroom was actual or perceived sexual orientation and gender expression. Almost a third of LGBT students reported missing at least one day of school because of fear for their safety.
That doesn’t exactly sound like an atmosphere resulting from a group of people trying to display a Christ-like example of loving one’s neighbor and reaching out in ministry to those they feel have things biblically wrong.
And that begs two important questions for the AFA:
First, why would they spread misinformation about the day’s intent? And second, why wouldn’t they encourage parents to encourage their kids to take a stand against hate and bullying instead?
Isn’t stopping hate the kind of thing that Christ might do?