I’ve started receiving numerous emails about boycotting the April 25th Day of Silence (details below) and I want to offer my perspective for consideration.
I’ve done a lot of thinking about it as well as some research about this event. The DayofSilence.org website says the purpose of the event is to: “observe a daylong silence to protest the bullying, harassment and name-calling—in effect, the silencing—faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students and their allies in schools.” In contrast, The American Family Association website (AFA) claims their purpose is “to disrupt the classes while promoting the homosexual lifestyle.” The Mission America website goes even further: “This pro-homosexual day communicates clear (and false) messages to ALL students in the school that: homosexuality is a worthy lifestyle; that it has few or no risks; that some people are “born” homosexual, including students; and that those who oppose this behavior are hateful and uninformed.”
Despite what these Christian organizations infer as to the purpose of the event, I believe we must base our response on their stated purpose, not our assumptions or interpolations. To do otherwise makes us look like fear-mongering, paranoid, extremists, who don’t understand plain English.
Surprisingly, I can fully agree with the stated purpose of the Day of Silence which says that the bullying, harassing, and name-calling of gays is deplorable. Though I strongly disagree about the correctness of homosexuality, I believe we should love those with whom we disagree. If we’re ever going to reach their hearts and change their values, I believe it will happen through love, not protesting.
Ironically, the same AFA website points out that… “DOS leads the students to believe that every person who identifies as a homosexual, bisexual or cross-dresser is a victim of ongoing, unrelenting harassment and hate. Students are taught that …those who oppose such teaching are characterized as ignorant and hateful bigots.” If that’s true, rather than reinforce their stereotypes, why not do something positive to counteract their presuppositions about us?
My opinion is that this AFA/Mission America boycott is just plain silly and counterproductive for the following reasons:
· If students miss a day of school, they will simply suffer academic consequences and fall behind—what have they gained?
· How is staying home going to help anything other than make us look silly? It won’t “silence” the “silenced” any further will it?
· The idea that a low turnout attendance day will hit the schools in the pocketbook and result in less favor towards homosexuals is unlikely. It will more likely create a distaste for Christians for using such tactics to try to strong-arm the school systems.
· The argument that we need to keep our kids from being exposed to homosexual indoctrination would be more believable if the participants weren’t being silent all day. Their only communication appears to be handing out cards saying “My deliberate silence echoes that silence which is caused by harassment, prejudice, and discrimination [toward homosexuals].” I have no problem exposing my kids to that message.
· How is staying home going to help people see the truth about sexual orientation? Would even one person conceivably change their view because of this? In contrast, it is much more likely that this would cause them to distance themselves even more from our understandings about what is true and reinforce their stereotypes of us.
Turn the situation around. What would we think if atheist parents started getting all worked up about “See You At The Pole” day. What if their organizational leaders started spreading alarmist emails, twisting the purpose of our event from being simply “meeting at their school flagpole to pray for…their nation” to “a day for Evangelical Right-Wingers to proselytize our campuses, cramming the Bible down our impressionable children’s throats and trying to make converts out of our kids.” What if the response of these atheist parents was to keep their kids out of school on this day 1.) so their kids won’t be exposed to the Christian propaganda 2.) because schools allow this to happen and even promote it over their school PA systems and on posters in the hallways and 3.) some teachers even stand at the pole in support of these Christian bigots. If the atheists responded to SYATP like that, we’d think: “How lame. What’s wrong with these people? What an overreaction. Get a life!” etc.
But I do believe that the Day of Silence does demand a response. Instead of simply staying home, how about using this day as an opportunity to actually do something constructive. Here are my ideas (and hopefully more will be generated from this discussion.)
· Talk about the event so you’re informed and prepared to respond constructively.
· Use whatever publicity this day generates as an opportunity to build a bridge rather than a wall. We can agree wholeheartedly that harassment, name calling, and bullying are deplorable—whether about race, religious affiliation or sexual preference.
· Since those recognizing the Day of Silence won’t be talking, it might be a great opportunity to talk to them! Express appreciation for their stand against harassment and use the opportunity to love them and affirm something good about them, shattering all their stereotypes. Ensure them that though you disagree with the appropriateness of homosexuality, you promise to never harass, bully, or name-call anyone based on what they consider to be their sexual orientation. Perhaps offer to have some discussion (after the silence ends!) about each other’s perspective on the whole homosexual issue.
· If a Christian student is asked to wear an armband or practice silence on that day, perhaps the response could be: “I’ll make you a deal—I’ll be happy to publicly protest the mistreatment of gays if you’ll be willing to publicly protest the mistreatment of Christians around the world since 200 million Christians are persecuted for their faith every day. Do we have a deal?”
· Maybe we can “redeem” this event by adding to it the awareness of persecuted Christians who are being silenced much more numerously than the gays have ever been. T-shirts?
· Be thankful they’ve chosen a Day of Silence instead of a Day of Noise!
Cedar Rapids, Iowa
BELOW IS THE EMAIL THAT IS GOING AROUND TO PARENTS FROM AMERICAN FAMILY ASSOCIATION.
Sent: Wednesday, March 5, 2008 7:12:31 PM
Subject: Is this happening at your child’s school?
Having problems viewing this e-mail message? Click here.
If your child’s school observes the homosexual sponsored “Day of Silence,” keep your child at home April 25.
Friday, April 25, several thousand schools across the nation will be observing “Day of Silence (DOS).” DOS is a nationwide push to promote the homosexual lifestyle in public schools.
AFA is joining other family-oriented groups in urging parents to keep their children at home that day if their local school is participating in the DOS project. By remaining silent, the intent of the pro-homosexual students is to disrupt the classes while promoting the homosexual lifestyle.
DOS is sponsored by an activist homosexual group, the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN). DOS leads the students to believe that every person who identifies as a homosexual, bisexual or cross-dresser is a victim of ongoing, unrelenting harassment and hate. Students are taught that homosexuality is a worthy lifestyle, homosexuality has few or no risks, and individuals are born homosexual and cannot change. Those who oppose such teaching are characterized as ignorant and hateful bigots.
Click here for Frequently Asked Questions about the Day of Silence:
What should parents do? Check with your local school principal to see if your child’s school will be participating in DOS. If the school is participating, notify other parents about DOS and ask them to join in keeping their children out of school on that day.
Here is a partial list of schools which are expected to participate in DOS: If your school is listed, call your local school and ascertain whether they officially or passively allow students to observe “Day of Silence.” If your school is listed, please double-check with your local school to see if the school is actually sponsoring DOS. Sometimes the “participation” turns out to be a handful of kids who are saying they have a homosexual club and are observing this protest day, but without school endorsement. We sincerely hope your school, if listed, is not actually an official sponsor. If it is not, we will take them off the list, if a school official asks us to do so. Please e-mail your correction to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Be sure of the date that DOS is planned for your school. (The national date is April 25, but some schools observe DOS on a different date.)
Inform the school of your intention to keep your child home on that date and explain why. Click here for a sample letter.
Explain to your children why you’re taking a stand: Homosexual behavior is not an innate identity; it is a sinful, unnatural and destructive behavior. No school should advance a physically, emotionally, and spiritually destructive sexual lifestyle to students.
Encourage your church leadership to follow the bold example of Pastor Ken Hutcherson who is vocally opposing “Day of Silence” in his community in Redmond, Washington. For his story, click here.
Thank you for caring enough to get involved. If you feel our efforts are worthy of support, would you consider making a small tax-deductible contribution? Click here to make a donation.
Donald E. Wildmon, Founder and Chairman American Family Association
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