PHOENIX, Ariz. A coalition of pro-family groups is asking parents to pull their children out of school April 17 to skip the Day of Silence, a national protest event sponsored by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network.
Each year students, teachers and staff are encouraged to remain silenteven during classesas a protest against discrimination of homosexuals and the transgendered. The organizers, a registered political action group, encourage participants to tape over their mouths to symbolize the silencing of gays and lesbians. According to the national coalition challenging the protest, the implicit purpose of Day of Silence is to undermine the belief that homosexuality is immoral.
"While in the public school setting, it is legitimate to teach students that there exist diverse opinions on this issue, it is not legitimate to imply that one of those opinions is preferable to another," said Laurie Higgins of the Illinois Family Institute. "While it is appropriate to teach students that tolerance requires that society should treat all with civility, it is not appropriate to teach that tolerance requires students to accept the view that homosexual conduct is moral."
In response to the GLSEN event, the Alliance Defense Fund began sponsoring its own counter movement, the Day of Truth, four years ago to provide an avenue for Christian students to use their lunch and passing periods to challenge the promotion of homosexuality in their schools. This year's observance will be held April 20, the first school day after the Day of Silence. This year the observance is being co-sponsored by Exodus International, a ministry to former gays and lesbians.
Originally designed to give students an opportunity to openly voice their opposition to school-based promotion of homosexuality, the event has grown from a handful of students to more than 13,000 participants in all 50 states. As the movement has grown, the vision has expanded beyond providing legal assistance to ensure student rights to distributing practical resources to students wanting to help peers dealing with same-sex attraction.
The relational aspect of this event has become the dominant focus and because of this shift, Exodus International will assume leadership in the future.
"Day of Truth students have the same constitutional right to express their viewpoint as any other student," said ADF senior legal counsel Mike Johnson. "Unfortunately, despite using buzzwords like 'tolerance' and 'diversity,' many schools have censored students who want to peacefully express a Christian viewpoint.
"Allowing the communication of one viewpoint and censoring others is not only intolerant, but unconstitutional."
The legal defense group vows to represent any student who has his or her free speech suppressed in public schools.
In the meantime, Higgins and her colleagues are encouraging parents of middle and high school students to call their child's school to find out if Day of Silence will be observed and, if it is, to keep their children home. Organizers are also asking parents to send letters to the administration, teachers and all school board members explaining the parents' actions.
"The worthy end of eliminating harassment does not justify the means of exploiting instructional time," she said, adding that students and teachers should not be allowed to exploit instructional time to advance their socio-political goals.
In addition to state-based family institutes, participating ministries include Abiding Truth Ministries; American Family Association; Americans for Truth; Association of Maryland Families; Called2Action; Campaign for Children and Families; Coalition of Conscience; Community Issues Council; Concerned Women for America National; Culture Campaign; Faith2Action; Faith, Family, Freedom Alliance; Liberty Alliance Action; Liberty Counsel; MassResistance; Mission America and Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays.
For more information, visit www.dayoftruth.org.