While the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network is asking for supporters to remain silent Friday for the cause of homosexual rights, conservative family and legal groups are encouraging students to create a dialogue and speak the truth in love.
Focus on the Family is busily preparing students to start a discussion on God’s perspective on bullying, relationships and sexuality for the Monday, April 18th Day of Dialogue. However, they say the same principles for facilitating peaceful dialogue can be applied on April 15, GLSEN’s Day of Silence.
Candi Cushman, who heads up Day of Dialogue for FOTF, said, “They (students) have a free speech right to respectfully and peacefully express their faith-based point of view and they can do that on April 15 or April 18th.”
The Day of Dialogue has been taken over and revamped from ex-gay group Exodus International’s Day of Truth. FOTF took on the student initiative after Exodus International, which provides support for those with unwanted homosexual desires, said last year that it would no longer sponsor the Day of Truth because of the "adversarial" tone it came to take on.
Cushman says the newly named Day of Dialogue builds on its predecessor’s efforts to start a conversation by enabling students to talk directly about their faith. It also allows students of faith to take on the hot topic bullying.
On the 18th, the school day after the Day of Silence, students will be encouraged to pass out conversation cards. The conversation cards tell the holder that “God cares about every single student in this school” and that Jesus “loves every person regardless of how they identify.” It also says that God “designed the best plan for our sexuality and relationship” and invites the card holder to have a discussion.
While the cards are reserved for the 18th, Cushman and others are encouraging students to still speak out on Friday.
Friday’s Day of Silence urges student participants to pass put cards, asking their peers to reflect on how anti-LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) harassment silences their community. While the GLSEN blog states that schools are not required to sponsor the event, Cushman noted that teachers are being “encouraged to have homosexual themes … in the classroom.” She said this creates a “pressure cooker situation” for students of faith.
As a result, Cushman said, “We do want to equip them to respond in a loving and respectful way.”
The Pacific Justice Institute released a statement advocating free expression during the Day of Silence. “No student in America should be forced to support an ideological message that he or she disagrees with,” said PJI Staff Attorney Matthew McReynolds. PJI is currently representing an Oregon student disciplined during last year’s Day of Silence for wearing a shirt expressing a differing opinion.
ADF Litigation Staff Counsel Matt Sharp also agrees that Christian students should express their opinions. In a blog he wrote, “Christians who oppose the blatant promotion of the homosexual agenda are often labeled as bullies. But respectfully speaking the truth is never an act of bullying. In fact, speaking the truth is the greatest act of love we can show to others.”
Meanwhile, others opposed to the Day of Silence have been urged to keep their kids home. Randy Thomasson of SaveCalifornia.com, a pro-family, pro-child organization, says parents "don't want their children subjected to in-your-face sexual indoctrination."
On Friday, April 15, students participating in the "Day of Silence" will wear pro-homosexuality T-shirts, buttons, and stickers, refuse to answer teachers' questions in classrooms, making it difficult for other students to concentrate, and generally take over school campuses for the entire day, Thomasson says.
Focus on the Family announced in November 2010 that it would be the new sponsor of the Day of Truth. The Day of Truth was established by the Alliance Defense Fund in 2005 to "counter the promotion of the homosexual agenda and express an opposing viewpoint from a Christian perspective." It was launched in response to GLSEN's Day of Silence, which encourages students to remain silent throughout the day.
Exodus had supported the Day of Truth for four years and spearheaded the effort for one year. Its announcement last October to end its support came in the wake of a string of gay teen suicides in August and September 2010.