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COMMENTARY: Day of Silence is a loud protest against bullying, so why are anti-gay groups against it?

Tomorrow marks the annual Day of Silence, a student-led activity across the United States and around the world in protest of bullying, anti-gay slurs and harassment in schools.

An annual tradition since 1996, Day of Silence encourages students to take a vow of silence for a day to illustrate how bullying and harassment in effect silences many LGBT youth or those perceived to be gay.

Considering the slew of suicides of bullied students over the past few years, Day of Silence has taken on a more significant role in the growing movement to put an end to bullying in our schools. In 2001, the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN) became the official organizational sponsor of Day of Silence, which is backed by numerous other groups.

Hard to believe that Day of Silence would have any critics. Who, in their right mind, can support bullying?

Well, the anti-gay groups connected to the Religious Right are spewing vitriol over Day of Silence and spitting out lies about the movement. Here is one example:

Karen England of the Capitol Resource Institute, based in Sacramento, Calif., pumped out propaganda this week attacking Day of Silence. Here is her email to supporters, which also begs for donations:

The Day of Silence sponsored by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), is this Friday. GLSEN's Day of Silence, which began on college campuses and has now infiltrated high and middle schools, exploits anti-bullying sentiment to silence people who oppose homosexuality based on morality. GLSEN and other organizations brazenly exploit teen suicides to falsely attribute culpability for teen suicide to conservative moral beliefs. GLSEN's end game is the eradication of conservative moral beliefs and the creation of a social and political climate in which it is impossible to express them. Their vehicle for this radical agenda is our public education.

Parents and Guardians: Keep your child home! Do not allow for your child to be forced into a hostile environment where they are forced to keep silent on their own beliefs and convictions.

A Sacramento church has put their own spin on this day by hosting an alternative event called "The Day of Service". Last year the church had teens come in and prepare and serve a meal for local area homeless. "Our goal was to remove children from the highly controversial and potentially dangerous environment on public school campuses on this day, and replace it with a postive [sic] event that benefits our community, " said Pastor Mark Cullum. The church is excited about providing this opportunity for parents and students and encourages other churches to get involved as well.

Even though it happens often, public schools should not be a place where individuals try and force their political agenda onto students. Keep your students home this Friday on the Day of Silence.

England’s email is classic bullcrap. Nobody is trying to silence the Religious Right. Nobody is trying to force their moral beliefs on the Religious Right … in reality, the Religious Right is trying to force its moral beliefs on everybody else.

What is so hideous and so disgusting about England’s email is that she and her organization are supporting bullying, trying to hide behind the Bible as an excuse to justify the harassment and intimidation of LGBT youth. There is NO justification for this point of view. It’s not Christian. It’s not about principles. It's not about religious freedom. It’s about discrimination by Karen England and the Capitol Resource Institute, the very organization that supported Proposition 8 and is trying to repeal SB 48, California’s FAIR Education Act.

It is people like Karen England and right-wing groups like Capitol Resource Institute that should be feared for their hatred and their homophobia, not GLSEN or Day of Silence.

Know your rights

The haters may try to disrupt Day of Silence, and some schools may attempt to deprive students of their right to protest in silence.

Lambda Legal and GLSEN will be monitoring activities on Friday. If you believe that your rights are being squashed, report it HERE.

Glsen Day of Silence