Friday’s ‘Day of Silence’ for ‘Bullied LGBT Students’: Arm Yourself and Your Child With the Facts
Friday, April 12 is the “National Day of Silence” for LGBTQ students. GLSEN, the sponsoring organization, describes it as “a student-led national event where folks take a vow of silence to highlight the silencing and erasure of LGBTQ people at school.”
Parents, today is a good day to find out whether your child’s school is participating. Your child may know, or you can call the school to find out. Don’t ask if the school is “sponsoring” it, though. Technically it’s student-led rather than school-sponsored. So the school could tell you, “No, we’re not sponsoring any such thing,” when in fact it’s on every bulletin board in every hallway.
Whether it’s in his or her school or not, your child may still hear about it on social media or television. So here are some facts to arm yourself and your family with.
General Information on the Day of Silence
- The Day of Silence started as a campaign to reduce bullying of students who are gay, lesbian, transexual, etc., or who may be perceived as such.
- It’s a popular movement, but it isn’t everywhere. Its Facebook page has well over 200,000 “likes,” but GLSEN reports only about 10,000 students signing up to support it.
- The Day of Silence is a student-led initiative — or at least that’s how GLSEN promotes it. Local mileage may vary.
- Where students initiate a Day of Silence, schools generally must allow it. Otherwise they can expect legal pushback.
- That does not mean, however, that teachers must alter classroom participation requirements.
Bullying and Homosexuality
- Research published in 2013 showed that LGBT students suffer more bullying than other at-risk groups, such as those with disabilities or students of color.
- Bullying is wrong. Period. It doesn’t matter why the person is being picked on.
- Standing up for bullied students is right. Period. Bullying is oppression, and God stands on the side of the oppressed. Standing up for bullied students can be a very positive Christian witness.
- Standing up for bullied LGBT students does not, however, mean standing for homosexuality or transgenderism. A student can stand against is wrong — bullying — while standing for the right view of marriage and morality. They’re separate issues.
A Day of Political Hijacking
- Other students, teachers and administrators won’t always be so wise about separating those issues, however.
- Therefore, while the “Day of Silence” is postured simply as an initiative to reduce anti-LGBT bullying, it’s likely to become a day of outspoken support for homosexuality and transgenderism instead.
- Parents should be careful to explain the difference to their children: standing against bullying isn’t the same as standing for homosexuality. Not even close.
- The American Family Association calls the Day of Silence a day of “hijacking the classroom for political purposes.” They’re right.
Bullying, Stigma and Suicide
- Teachers and students may claim that bullying causes a high rate of suicide among LGBT students. Even GLSEN disagrees with that now, though, saying, “The relationship between bullying and suicide is complex.… The large majority of people who experience bullying do not become suicidal.”
- The related claim is that anti-LGBT stigma causes suicide. There’s no good research backing up that claim. Yes, it’s true that LGBT persons have higher rates of depression and anxiety. It’s true that LGBT spokespersons claim that’s largely because of stigma, and not simply because anxiety and depression go with being gay, lesbian or transgender. But it’s also true that there’s very little if any unbiased research being done on this. Instead there’s intense political pressure on researchers to “find” “facts” that support the LGBT narrative.
Christian Witness and the Day of Silence
- GLSEN presents the “Day of Silence” as a day to highlight the “silencing and erasure” of LGBT people at school. That’s strong language, and highly questionable now. The latest statistics on anti-LGBT bullying came out in 2013, two years before the Supreme Court approved gay marriage. Need I say it? A lot has happened since then.
- You and your child can afford to be skeptical that LGBT people and issues are being “erased” at school these days. In fact, for decades now there’s been reason to wonder whether Christianity is being erased.
- You may want to consider keeping your child home on the Day of Silence.
- Or you might want to encourage something like a locally-initiated Day of Dialogue instead. Speaking up for truth — if done in love — is never a bad witness.
Tom Gilson is a senior editor with The Stream and the author of Critical Conversations: A Christian Parents’ Guide to Discussing Homosexuality with Teens (Kregel Publications, 2016). Follow him on Twitter: @TomGilsonAuthor.