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19 March 2012

Repudiation: Opposition to Day of Silence

Mission America, created and headed by Linda Harvey, has been spreading Christianity and denouncing homosexuality since 1995.  She has just written a piece titled Why Parents Should Keep Their Children Home from School on the Day of Silence.
On Friday April, 20, 2012, the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) is once again exploiting public schools to promote homosexuality and gender confusion as moral and normative through the political protest called the Day of Silence.
The idea of promoting homosexuality or "gender confusion" as if these were somehow contagious is absurd.  Ms. Harvey clearly wants no understanding of the medical and counseling communities views on these matters.  Every major medical and psychological and counseling organization understands that homosexuality and transgender persons are on the spectrum of normal and does not treat either as immoral.

GLSEN has just launched a new Day of Silence website.  In their words, "Founded in 1996, the Day of Silence has become the largest single student-led action towards creating safer schools for all, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression."
A coalition of pro-family groups is urging parents to keep their children home from school on the “Day of Silence,” if your school is allowing students to refuse to speak in class.
Every public school where I have taught has allowed students to make this decision for themselves.  No student is ever coerced into participating.  I have had students tell me that they don't agree with the Day of Silence and will be participating vocally in class.  That is the right of those students.  Rather than stand up respectfully in disagreement, as a few of my students have done, Ms. Harvey is encouraging hiding and closing the minds of students from other ways of thinking.  She is encouraging cowardice.  She wants to make sure that bigoted students aren't contaminated by others who are nice to each other in silence.
GLSEN’s Day of Silence, which began on college campuses and has now infiltrated even middle schools, exploits anti-bullying sentiment to undermine the belief that homosexual acts are immoral.
Whether or not one believes that "homosexual acts are immoral", that does not give one the right to bully those who one thinks are homosexual.  The word "infiltrated" implies some kind of subterfuge.  No, this is not a secret.  It is quite open and apparent.
GLSEN shamelessly exploits teen suicide in order to create a climate of hysteria which they then use to falsely impute culpability for teen suicide to conservative moral beliefs.
The "climate of hysteria" is that which is created by bullies and encouraged by beliefs like those of Mission America.  When one establishes an environment where some children are designated as being in a lower caste, that makes bullying acceptable.  That is the basis for saying that Mission America and hate organizations have culpability in the rash of teen suicides that we have seen.
GLSEN’s end game is the eradication of conservative moral beliefs and the creation of a social and political climate in which it is impossible to express them. Their cultural vehicle of choice for this radical social experiment is public education. What a strategic coup for homosexualists: use our money to capture the hearts and minds of our children.
No.  The end game of GLSEN is the creation of an environment where those with conservative moral beliefs and everyone else can coexist without a caste system, without bullying, and without belittlement of any groups within our schools.  The only expressions that are not welcome in this ideal are those that put down others.  To the best of my knowledge, the Day of Silence is not funded by school or tax dollars.  Materials are paid for by GLSEN, donations to which are tax-deductible under the same IRS code as Mission America.
Efforts to exploit public education for the purpose of eradicating conservative moral beliefs are dramatically increasing every year. Homosexual activists and their allies are aggressively targeting younger and younger children through “anti-bullying” laws, policies, and curricula; through the effort to nationalize “comprehensive sex ed”; through laws mandating positive portrayals of homosexuality and gender deviance in curricula; and through events like the Day of Silence, National Coming Out Day, Ally Week, Transgender Day of Remembrance; and Spirit Week.
"Eradicating conservative moral beliefs"?  That applies to only those that involve hate (which isn't supposed to be part of Christianity according to what I remember from theology classes taught by Jesuit priests).  It is certainly true that anti-bullying policies and curricula are and should be available to all of public school classes and children.  I have written previously about the value and importance of comprehensive sex education.  I have written quite a bit about California's SB-48, the Fair, Accurate, Inclusive, and Respectful (FAIR) Education Act which is the law "mandating positive portrayals of homosexuality and gender deviance in curricula".  These and the other GLSEN programs listed are very good for our schools and society.
And conservatives do virtually nothing. Our complacence makes us complicit in the damage done to our children and our culture. 
If that were true, there would be no need for my blog.  Most of what I write is in response to hateful legislation and responses to efforts to move toward equality.  In short, Ms. Harvey is bearing false witness.
Moreover, we teach our children by example to be cowardly conformists. It’s time to resist and there’s no easier way to resist than to call your children out of school on the Day of Silence.
Keeping children and home and hiding from an opportunity for dialogue is cowardly.
Parents and Guardians: Call your children’s middle and high schools and ask if students and/or teachers will be permitted to refuse to speak during class on Friday, April 20, 2012. If your administration allows students and/or teachers to refuse to speak during class, call your child out of school. Every student absence costs school districts money.
As a teacher who firmly believes in the Day of Silence, I have never refrained from speaking on those days and neither has any other gay or straight teacher who I know.  This is entirely the students.  The nature of funding the schools varies from district to district and state to state.  Some district funding is based on every absence.  Other districts do quarterly or annual attendance checks for purposes of funding.  In many schools, Ms. Harvey's suggestion hurts the students pulled out but not the schools, other than in losing opportunities for students to learn.
When administrators refuse to listen to reason and when they allow the classroom to be exploited for political purposes, parents must take action. If they don’t, the politicization of the classroom and curricula will increase.
The Day of Silence is a symbolic gesture to raise awareness of bullying.  How is that not reasonable?  To quote from GLSEN, "GLSEN’s 2009 National School Climate Survey found that nearly 9 out of 10 LGBT students report verbal, sexual or physical harassment at school and more than 30% report missing at least a day of school in the past month out of fear for their personal safety. Moreover, two of the top three reasons students said their peers were most often bullied at school were actual or perceived sexual orientation and gender expression, according to From Teasing to Torment: School Climate in America, a 2005 report by GLSEN and Harris Interactive. Thus, the Day of Silence helps bring us closer to making anti-LGBT bullying, harassment and name-calling unacceptable in America’s schools."  It is about protecting students by creating a more tolerant environment.
If your administrator tells you that they do not permit students or teachers to refuse to speak in class, ask him or her how that is communicated to faculty and students and how it is enforced.
In the schools where I have taught, students have been allowed to put up posters announcing the day in advance.  Teachers have been informed during an staff meeting when this will occur and reminding us that we can require that all students speak in our classes ... that our classroom policy is up to us as long as we remain respectful in implementing it.
The ACLU has issued this statement to students regarding silence in class:

"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."
Sounds reasonable to me.
The idea that homosexual acts are moral, good, or normative is not a fact. It is an unproven, non-factual, controversial moral belief. As such, no government employee or publicly subsidized institution has the ethical right to teach it to children implicitly or explicitly. It is entirely possible for schools to work toward the important goal of eradicating bullying without affirming homosexuality or gender confusion.
While Ms Harvey is wrong in her first sentence, schools are not teaching anything other than tolerance.  However, here is an important clue regarding "affirming homosexuality or gender confusion."  Homosexuals and transgender persons have been around for millenia.  We are real.  We are part of American society even as we have been part of every other society throughout history (including during biblical times ... that is why we are mentioned in the Bible).  Acceptance of this simple fact by Ms. Harvey would help.

There are a few more repetitive paragraphs.  Rather than me writing more, let's look at a few facts from GLSEN:
The day is a positive educational experience. The Day of Silence is an opportunity for students to work toward improving school climate for all students. GLSEN advises students interested in participating to discuss their intentions with their administration and teachers long before the event. The day is most successful when schools and students work together to show their commitment to ensuring safe schools for all students. Many schools allow students’ participation throughout the day. Some schools ask students to speak as they normally would during class and remain silent during breaks and at lunch. There is no single way to participate, and students are encouraged to take part in the way that is the most positive and uplifting for their school.
Thanks to Joe My God for the heads up.

18 April 2012, FollowUp 1

20 April 2012, FollowUp 2.

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