Students from more than 6,000 schools across the country will observe a vow of silence on April 16 as they take part in the 15th annual “Day of Silence” to bring attention to the ongoing harassment of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender students.
Let the harassment from the religious right begin:
”I think that we shouldn’t be exploiting public education for this,” said Laurie Higgins, director of school advocacy for the Illinois Family Institute. “There are better ways to use taxpayer money. We send our kids there to learn the subject matter, not … to be unwillingly exposed to political protest during instructional time.”
“Obviously this is intended to make an impact on the educational environment – otherwise they wouldn’t be doing it at school,” said Bryan Fischer, director of issues analysis at the American Family Institute. “The only impact it could possibly have would be to interfere with class.”
Higgins and Fischer are urging parents to keep their kids home on Friday to protest the Day of Silence. One wonders what kind of lesson this teaches the children of those parents who keep them at home. They probably learn that they can shirk their responsibility to education when it suits them to avoid the unpleasantness of having an LGBT student, or one of their allies, NOT speak with them about how their bigotry hurts them.
Or, perhaps it teaches these children that, once again, they should ignore the serious threats LGBT kids face – perhaps at the hands of these kids whose parents have taught them it’s okay to disregard the feelings of their LGBT classmates because they are “immoral” by their standards. Either way, the children who will stay home on Friday are reinforced in their bigotry, and reinforce the atmosphere of bigotry faced by LGBT students.
Some parents, however, may send their kids to school thinking that it will be good to have a “voice of opposition” in the classroom during the Day of Silence. That’s not a good idea according a document from the Illinois Family Institute that declares: “the adolescent culture is liberal, and adolescents desire to fit in. The vast majority of conservative teens do not feel comfortable vocally opposing their culture and will not do so.”
Excuse me? The “adolescent culture is liberal”? If that were so then surveys would certainly bear that out, showing that LGBT kids enjoy a great deal of acceptance by their peers. Unfortunately, the facts just don’t back up that absurd statement. The 2007 National School Climate Survey found “that nearly 9 out of 10 LGBT students (86.2%) experienced harassment at school in the past year, three-fifths (60.8%) felt unsafe at school because of their sexual orientation and about a third (32.7%) skipped a day of school in the past month because of feeling unsafe.”
Clearly, the culture that LGBT students are living in is not a “liberal” or accepting one. Bullying is still happening, and much of it is done in front of teachers and with little or no intervention from school administrators.
Those on the religious right can crow all they want about wasting taxpayer money or class interference, but the bottom line for these organizations is that they fully support the bullying of LGBT students by continuing to demonize them as a “moral” issue and not a human one.