Sunday, April 18, 2010


Friday has been designated a Day of Silence in most of the nation’s schools by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN). On April 16, many high school (and some middle school) students won’t speak during the day in order to show solidarity with gay classmates.

This now-annual event raises a plethora of questions about student rights and the role public schools should play vis-à-vis controversial political and social agendas.

There would be little to object to if the Day of Silence were only dedicated to the proposition that students shouldn’t be subjected to slurs of any kind—racial, religious, ethnic, or sexual. In my twenty years in the classroom I enforced this no-slur policy across the board.

GLSEN and similar organizations, however, aren’t merely anti-defamation leagues. Rather, they have broader political agendas that concern fundamental social issues about which there is deep public disagreement—a fact illustrated in spades by the passionate debate on California’s Proposition 8.

The question that arises for school administrators is how to respond to these “silent” student demonstrations. Do they ignore them, discourage them, or facilitate and build upon them?

Given the fact that the California Teachers Association gave 1.3 million dollars to the “No on 8” campaign, it is safe to assume that most public schools will be inclined to take the “facilitation” route—with some teachers seizing upon this “teachable moment” to further indoctrinate students with their own Gay-Lesbian-Bisexual-Transgender vision of society.

This vision, more implicit than explicit, includes the conviction that sexual orientation is purely a genetic given and that male-female households are no more beneficial to children and society than households or relationships of any other sexual configuration.

The fairly obvious truth, however, is that children benefit from male-female domestic models and that human sexual expression is a matter of gradations—not a function of gay-straight absolutes. Gradations, however, aren’t congenial to folks who place sexual activity in the same black-white categories as race.

Accordingly, the label “bisexual” is regularly employed by youngsters posting at GLSEN’s blog to lend an aura of genetic inevitability to actions once termed promiscuous.

Most public schools, I’m confident, would give absolutely no support to a student-led “Day of Silence” that defended the “silent scream” rights of an unborn child. Indeed, many administrators would likely cooperate with the ACLU to prohibit—like student prayers at graduation—the overt expression of these “religious” beliefs.

Parents who object to having public schools promote a GLBT social agenda should think seriously about keeping their kids home from school on Friday—especially if administrators aren’t forthcoming about their “Day of Silence” plans.

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