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The National Day of Silence (DOS)

Negative reactions towards the DOS
by social and religious conservatives
Part 1

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Fundamental beliefs about homosexuality by social and religious conservatives:

Beliefs about homosexuality and transsexuality by most religious and social conservatives are supported by a single small professional association of mental health therapists: the National Association for Research & Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH). These beliefs are in many ways the mirror opposite of those of most religious & social liberals; lesbians, gays, bisexuals & transgender persons (LGBT); and the vast majority of human sexuality researchers, therapists, and mental health professional organizations.

  • Most conservatives believe that sexual orientation and gender identity are chosen behaviors that are changeable through therapy. Many interpret various biblical passages as condemning sexually active gays and lesbians to Hell after death. Many conservatives are thus highly motivated to try to convince lesbians, gays and bisexuals to choose heterosexuality. Many feel that if the Day of Silence succeeds and persons of all sexual orientations and gender identities are treated with respect, then young people will be less likely to choose heterosexuality and more youth will choose homosexuality.

  • Others believe that sexual orientation and gender identity are not chosen and generally unchangeable. Many view homophobia and transphobia -- discrimination against LGBT persons -- to be a major civil rights concern.

With differences of opinion like these, it is inevitable that communication and compromise will be very difficult.

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Activity in 2002:

On 2002-APR-4, the leading fundamentalist Christian group, Focus on the Family, posted a negative report about the National Day of Silence. 1 They assign responsibility for the project to "homosexual activists," even though heterosexuals, gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender persons participate in large numbers.

Focus quoted Peter LaBarbera, of the Culture and Family Institute, who ridiculed the "Day of Silence" as a misnomer. He said: "It's interesting that they're not even keeping quiet for a whole day, because a lot of the students are having protests and rallies at the end of their supposed Day of Silence." He apparently did not realize that the Break the Silence events in the evening are an integral part of the Day of Silence.

To counter the National Day of Silence, Mission America sponsored the "Truth without Interruption Day" (TWID) -- a counter-event, on the same day. Mission America is a fundamentalist Christian group founded by Linda Harvey. 2 She feels that "Truth is critical to a dying patient and America is gravely ill." Their web site opposes equal rights for homosexuals, Goddess worship, postmodernism, inclusive sex education, feminist theology, and Witchcraft (which she equates to Satanism)

She writes that "Participants [in the Day of Silence] will hand out material promoting homosexuality, bisexuality and cross-dressing." Actually, participants will promote equal rights and an end of bullying, harassment and violence against LGBT persons. She apparently confuses cross dressers with transgender individuals and transsexuals.  

Mission America provides a list of talking points for TWID:

bullet The beliefs of religious and social conservatives who are opposed to equal rights and protections for LGBT persons are "usually censored and stopped by name-calling, false accusations, threats of lawsuits, and insults."
bullet Homosexuality, both orientation and behavior, are not genetically based.
bullet Same-sex behaviors are high-risk.
bullet Homosexuals are not real victims.
bullet Equal rights for homosexuals, bisexuals and transgender persons are actually special rights.
bullet Homosexuals are "likely to live shortened lives or contract incurable diseases."
bullet Those who are opposing equal rights for gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender persons are the true victims; it is they who are being silenced.

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Mission America doesn't appear to be aware that the incidence of sexually transmitted infections among lesbians is much lower than STIs among either heterosexuals or homosexuals.

Their postal address is Truth Without Interruption Day, PO Box 21836, Columbus, OH 43221. Their motto is "Think outside the Triangle." The pink triangle is a symbol that is commonly used by gays and lesbians. It is based on the identification symbol that gays were forced to wear in extermination camps during the Nazi holocaust.

They sell low-cost T-shirts:

bullet One says "Sometime you gotta make a choice." on the front, and "And you shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free." John 8:32 www.Choice4Truth.com" (The URL refers to Mission America's youth web site)
bullet The other says "THINK" on the front, and "Think - Outside the triangle" on the back.

They also provide a sample news release, including precise statements for the local coordinator to say to the media. 3

 

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Activity in 2010:

American Family Association: As the 2010 DOS approached, another fundamentalist Christian group, the American Family Association, (AFA) recommended that parents keep their children at home on APR-16 if the school plans a "Day of Silence" program in order to avoid subjecting them to gay-positive propaganda.

They wrote:

"This year it will take place in most public schools on April 16. On this day, thousands of public high schools and increasing numbers of middle schools will allow students to remain silent throughout an entire day-even during instructional time-to promote GLSEN's socio-political goals and its controversial, unproven, and destructive theories on the nature and morality of homosexuality."

Although the AFA believes that GLSEN's theories "on the nature and morality of homosexuality" are unproven and destructive, they match those promoted in statements on homosexuality by many U.S. mental health and education professional associations. This includes the "Just the Facts Coalition" -- a group of 13 professional associations including the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Counseling Association, American Association of School Administrators, American Federation of Teachers, American Psychological Association, American School Health Association, Interfaith Alliance Foundation, National Association of School Psychologists, National Association of Social Workers and National Education Association. That  coalition issued a statement in 1999 on sexual orientation, which they updated in 2008. It is titled "Just the facts about sexual orientation."

The AFA continues:

"Parents must actively oppose this hijacking of the classroom for political purposes. Please join the national effort to restore to public education a proper understanding of the role of government-subsidized schools. You can help de-politicize the learning environment by calling your child out of school if your child's school allows students to remain silent during instructional time on the Day of Silence." 4

AFA President Tim Wildmon said:

"Parents can make it easy and financially beneficial for schools to do the right thing, and can hit them in the wallet if they won't."5

The AFA appears to regard the withdrawal of children from school, and thereby generating a loss in revenue to the local school board, is not a political statement but that students remaining silent in school is a political statement.

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This topic is continued in Part 2

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. Bob Kellog, "Homosexual 'Day of Silence' prompts response," Focus on the Family, at: http://www.family.org/cforum/fnif/
  2. Mission America has a web site at: http://missionamerica.com
  3. The TWID "Sample News Release," is at: http://missionamerica.com/twid_news.htm
  4. "If your child's school allows 'Day of Silence'," American Family Association, 2010-APR-07, at: http://action.afa.net/
  5. "Controversial Day of Silence at Bear River marks discrimination vs. gays," The Union (Nevada), 2010-APR-12, at: http://www.theunion.com/

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Site navigation: Home > "Hot" topics > Homosexuality > Agenda & news > DOS > here

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Copyright © 2002 to 2010 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2002-APR-7
Latest update: 2010-APR-13
Author: B.A. Robinson

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