A national coalition of pro-family groups are urging parents to keep their students home this coming Friday in protest of the annual "Day of Silence," when students vow silence to bring attention to the discrimination of gay students.
Over 20 Christian-based conservative groups have called for the massive walkout from middle and high schools participating the April 17 event, arguing that the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN)'s sponsored event politicizes the classroom to support the belief that homosexuality is moral. They include state chapters of American Family Association, Concerned Women for America, Illinois Family Institute, Liberty Council and Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays.
"This day is not about 'tolerance' as it claims, but about forcing propaganda and acceptance of high-risk behavior into the schools with no opposing views allowed," said Linda Harvey of Mission America, which also supports the walkout.
Laurie Higgins of the Illinois Family Institute said that while "all of civilized society must oppose bullying," she opposes the "illegitimate means of using public education to affirm volitional homosexual behavior."
Campaign for California Families said the demonstration will serve as financial "leverage" to get the message across, saying public schools in California lose $100 a day for each child absent.
The groups have encouraged parents and teens who are not willing to risk teacher retribution or missing school to send a letter to schools officials expressing their objections to Day of Silence.
The coalition has also called attention to a resolution sitting before Congress that would urge the federal government and public schools to officially recognize and celebrate Day of Silence. The legislation also requests that "the President issue a proclamation calling on the people of the United States to observe the National Day of Silence with appropriate ceremonies, programs, and activities."
House Concurrent Resolution 92 was introduced on April 1 and has been referred to the House Judiciary Committee.
GLSEN claims that over 8,000 students participated in last year's Day of Silence. The organization says the observance is needed, pointing to its 2007 survey showing 86 percent of LGBT students reported being verbally harassed because of their sexual orientation while 44 percent report being physically harassed.
The band of pro-family groups, meanwhile, says that by opposing the event they are in no way endorsing the bullying and harassment of those in the LGBT community.
One Christian professor, however, has come against the walkout, saying it's not very productive.
"How can we get anything accomplished if we leave the field?" Dr. Warren Throckmorton, professor of Psychology at Grove City College in Pennsylvania, wrote last week on his blog on Crosswalk.com.
The expert in mental health and sexuality issues contends that students taking part in Day of Silence have a point, saying he has spoken with Christian students who have admitted to bullying or harassing gay students.
Throckmorton has created an alternative response to Day of Silence, asking Christians to take The Golden Rule Pledge and show up at school to live out the teaching of Christ to treat others as they want to be treated.
When Day of Silence students hand out cards asking, "What will you do to help end the silence?" Christian students should respond: "This is what I am going to do. I pledge to treat others the way I want to be treated. 'Do to others as you would have them do to you.'"
Meanwhile, several other Christian-based conservative groups are promoting the Day of Truth on April 20, the following Monday, as a direct response to Day of Silence. According to Day of Truth's Web site, it was established to "counter the promotion of the homosexual agenda and express an opposing viewpoint from a Christian perspective."
Alliance Defense Fund and Exodus International, the promoters of Day of Truth, are encouraging students to speak the "truth in love" and engage in conversation about homosexuality.
Participants are also asked to hand out cards reading: "I'm speaking the Truth to break the silence. True tolerance means that people with differing - even opposing - viewpoints can freely exchange ideas and respectfully listen to each other. It's time for an honest conversation about homosexuality. There's freedom to change if you want to. Let's talk."