Life

Silencing Lies

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?

3 Comments

  1. I have to admit that I am a little biased on this subject and it does raise my dander.

    Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network (GLSEN) did a survey of transgender students and their findings are alarming…

    # 90% of transgender students heard derogatory remarks, such as “dyke” or “######,” sometimes, often or frequently in school in the past year.

    # Two-thirds of transgender students felt unsafe in school because of their sexual orientation (69%) and how they expressed their gender (65%).

    # Most transgender students (54%) who were victimized in school did not report the events to school authorities. Among those who did report incidents to school personnel, few students (33%) believed that staff addressed the situation effectively.

    # Almost half of all transgender students reported skipping a class at least once in the past month (47%) and missing at least one day of school in the past month (46%) because they felt unsafe or uncomfortable.

    # Transgender students who experienced high levels of harassment had significantly lower GPAs than those who experienced lower levels of harassment (verbal harassment based on sexual orientation: 2.2. vs. 3.0, gender expression: 2.3 vs. 2.8, gender: 2.2 vs. 2.7).

    http://www.glsen.org/cgi-bin/iowa/all/news/record/2388.html

    The rate of suicide rates among LGBT students is 4 time that of straight students…

    The study also found that about 10 percent of Massachusetts high school students attempted suicide, according to a survey of about 4,000 students in 1997. Broken down by sexual orientation, about 40 percent of gay and bisexual students attempted suicide, compared to about 10 percent of their heterosexual peers.

    http://www.glsen.org/cgi-bin/iowa/all/news/record/399.html

    And you do not even have to be LGBT to be harassed, the other students just have to think that you are…

    In another Massachusetts case, Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover, 11, hanged himself last spring after classmates teased and harassed him because they thought he was gay.

    A Vermont eighth-grader, Ryan Halligan, committed suicide when a rumor about him was spread across the Internet.

    http://www.baxterbulletin.com/article/20100331/OPINION01/3310311

    This is not the first time that AFA have distorted the truth. They called the federal Hate Crime bill the “Pedophile Protection Act” and said that it would be a crime for religious leaders to speak out against homosexuals even though the bill specifically said that it applies only physical violence.

    We need to stop the hate. We need Christians to speak up against the one who spread the hate.

    1. And you do not even have to be LGBT to be harassed, the other students just have to think that you are…

      In another Massachusetts case, Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover, 11, hanged himself last spring after classmates teased and harassed him because they thought he was gay.

      A Vermont eighth-grader, Ryan Halligan, committed suicide when a rumor about him was spread across the Internet.

      This, Diana, is the biggest problem I have with all of the people who seem to want to portray themselves as protectors of family: their children could be attacked for no valid reason, yet they’d seemingly rather do nothing to stop it to make some quasi-religious stance that they can’t even support biblically rather than ban together to stop hate in general.

      It’s frustrating when people of faith would rather act out of fear of association than out of a genuine desire to do the right thing. Thanks for pointing these out.

  2. I am quickly becoming more and more of a closet Christian: I read something yesterday that ‘informed’ me that people who allow that homosexuality isn’t the worst thing ever (like me) are only “playing at” being Christian, and then she cited the Sodom and Gomorrah story. Yeah, that great “Christian” story in which Lot offers up his daughters instead of his (male) guests to the crowd.

    Now this.

    I wonder if I can be silent on the 16th….

Leave a Response

We'd love to hear from you, but remember all comments must be respectful. We reserve the right to remove comments that do not follow our comment guidelines. Click here to review our comment policy.

Your name, as provided, will display on the website with any comment you leave. Your email address and your browser’s IP address does not display publicly and we do not share or sell your email address or IP address to anyone.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Patrick is a Christian with more than 28 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.