If You Support Gay Rights, I’m Ditching Class March 10, 2008

If You Support Gay Rights, I’m Ditching Class

That’s what the argument boils down to for the American Family Association (AFA).

On April 25th, students across the country (who choose to participate) will take part in the Day of Silence — where they will “observe the day in silence to echo the silence LGBT and ally students face every day.”

The AFA will have none of that:

The American Family Association (AFA), along with other family-oriented groups, is urging parents to keep their kids home from school that day — if the school observes the project.

The event encourages students to remain quiet throughout the day in order to bring attention to the homosexual lifestyle.

They miss one key point, though, and Ed Brayton points it out (emphasis mine):

… this whole notion the AFA is pushing about schools “participating” in the Day of Silence is nonsense. Schools do not participate, individuals do. Schools cannot stop them from doing so. This is a student-initiated protest.

The AFA also makes no sense in their Action Alert:

By remaining silent, the intent of the pro-homosexual students is to disrupt the classes while promoting the homosexual lifestyle.

“Disrupt the classes”? When has silence ever disrupted a class? Find me a teacher whose day is disrupted because a few students are being quiet.

(In fact, as a teacher, I encourage all advocacy groups to hold days of silence throughout the school year. Support free speech? Be silent next Wednesday. Want lower gas prices? Shush your mouth on Monday. Do you support days of silence? No talking on Thursday.)

And I don’t recall the AFA complaining when pro-life students held their “day of silence” project back in October, to “express their contempt for the murderous act of abortion that has claimed one-third of their generation and continues to take the lives of over 4,000 babies per day in the United States alone.”

What would its reaction have been if other students ditched class on that day…?

Silence isn’t the issue. It’s pure, simple bigotry. And to tell children to stay home from school because of… well, I can’t exactly figure out what they’re staying home from… isn’t just damaging to their education, it takes away their ability to see other perspectives, discuss those beliefs, and even voice their disagreement.

(via Dispatches from the Culture Wars)

[tags]atheist, atheism[/tags]

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  • Maybe this is only because I’m a militant neo-atheist, but something about the idea of a “Day of Silence” is unappealing to me. Isn’t it a better solution to do something that, you know, speaks out a bit more?

    But ditching class… that’s much worse. Is it supposed to be symbolic of their anti-intellectualism?

  • There have been occasions in the past (I don’t teach anymore), where sullen or even uncooperative silence had me tearing out my metaphorical hair. (I shaved my head before I started teaching, but I was pretty damn frustrated.)

  • julie marie

    it takes away their ability to see other perspectives, discuss those beliefs,

    right. I think that is the point, when you get down to it.

  • What? I thought they supported moments of silence?

    Oh, right, only when they’re not optional. I see.

    — Miz L.

  • I’ve been a teacher in a school where students participated in the Day of Silence (full disclosure: I was also one of the advisers to the Gay-Straight Alliance). It is an amazingly powerful day, especially when even one or two of the student participants in a class also happen to be strong students who usually contribute a lot. Afterwards, I heard from students, both silent and not, who really seemed to get it finally. Not all, but just a few means a few more.

  • terri

    At our high school, there’s a Day of Prayer a week or so after the Day of Silence; some of these kids wear nasty T-shirts or start preaching outside, yet nothing is said to them.

  • In September, some Christian school groups organize “See You At The Pole” events. I just thought it was annoying when I was in school, but according to ReligiousTolerance.org, in some (*cough*, red) states, the students at these events symbolically crucify the non-Christian students by nailing/affixing their names to a wooden cross. Now it sickens me.

    And they have the nerve to get upset about the Day of Silence.

  • If the point of this day is to bring more attention to LGBT issues, then I guess AFA is actually helping the cause by encouraging kids to stay home. Wouldn’t simply ignoring the silent kids make more sense?

  • I First heard about Day of Silence from a comic three years ago (I can’t remember which one because I read a few written by open LGBT members.) The UK I think is more friendly to gay/etc people than america is…But saying that I didn’t know anyone who was gay till sixthform and never talked to him about if he was persecuted or not.

  • Vincent

    these people aren’t worried about damaging their kids’ educations.
    They only send their kids to school because a) the state requires it and b) it’s free daycare.
    They would rather their kids just read the bible all day since that’s all they need to know.

  • Nancy

    By remaining silent, the intent of the pro-homosexual students is to disrupt the classes while promoting the homosexual lifestyle.

    I am a teacher … and I laughed out loud when I read this. It’s priceless.

  • One of the people on my blogroll had an amusing take on this:

    Imagine a world with no bigots.

    A country with no little bigot-spawn spewing forth their biblical curses and rants towards gay people, or people without faith, or people of a different faith.

    Imagine a classroom where all children feel loved, regardless of their differences.

    Imagine a school that teaches acceptance and love for all. A school without bigot-brigades, self-righteous hypocrites, or “religious” leaders attempt to censor the words of teachers.

    Imagine a time when there are no fundamentalist religious congregations and CEOs “pastors” trying to force their beliefs on everyone else.

    Sounds nice, right?

    Well, that can become reality for just one day if you participate in “Keep the Bigots Home Day” on April 25.

  • If they went to school that day, they may risk learning something. The AFA can’t have any of that. What’d be next? Free-thought?! Questions?! Perhaps… gulp…. actual independence?

  • And a comment to Miller. I think that the purpose is to create a sense of empathy with the LGBT, who feel the forced silence daily. Have you tried to not speak for an entire day? It really is difficult and makes you feel worthless, however, if you take a vow of silence, it can be very eye opening as you spend more time listening and less time waiting to speak.

    I think the Days of Silence are but one very important weapon in the arsenal of awareness. Because, yes, we should stand up and act as well.

  • Michael

    I’m time and again amazed how much hate and intollerence the so-called christians on the far right in the US spew out. If I didn’t know better I would have thought that the stories we get on our evening news(yes the actions of those groups are so foreign to us) were 50 years old! That’s about how many years you would have to go back to find the same views in Western Europe! We too DO have far right christians but their numbers are very low and most importantly, they are NOT given any influence on politics. In society THEY are the “outcasts”
    An example: In a Danish village The Evangelists set up a protest in front of the local hookers house to fend off “customers”. After a while the rest of the village went out in SUPPORT of the hooker, because as they said:”We won’t let a small group of loonies force their views on the rest of us” Imagine this happen in the US.
    Sadly it wouldn’t.

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