Last Friday was the Day of Silence, and, like clockwork, the right opposed it. Do they realize that "pro-bullying" isn't the position they want to be taking?
Anyway, it does make school administrators uneasy, as it did in this one Indiana school:
Sophomores Mary Catherine Lemon and Garret Hogan, both 16, contend their fliers were not approved, and Hogan said a speech he read over the intercom Monday to make students aware of the day had been revised by Principal Eric Ban.
"When I mentioned the words lesbian and bisexual in the speech, it was altered," Hogan said. "Dr. Ban said it's not just about lesbians, gays and bisexuals but all students of diversity. He mentioned AIDS victims, Muslims and black people. I believe he wanted to get around using the words gay, lesbian and bisexual. I don't think he wants to deal with radical parents calling in."
Lemon added, "That's not really what the Day of Silence is about."
It isn't. Day of Silence was started by GLSEN (GL for "Gay and Lesbian," and their speaking cards say "LGBT") to raise awareness about anti-LGBT school bullying. It uses silence as a symbol for the kids who can't stand up for themselves against that sort of bullying because doing so would just make them a target. It's ironic, but not unpredictable, that the Day of Silence was itself silenced.
The principal spoke to the local paper:
Crown Point High School Principal Eric Ban said his efforts were not directed at censorship.
"We are about safe, civil and respectful behaviors," he said Tuesday afternoon.
"The Day of Silence is symbolic to promote civil and anti-bullying behavior and anti-harassment communication to students. I don't feel like they were censored. We developed a student union this year. It's there to work with the students. It's a vehicle to help them express their opinions and be confident that their ideas have been heard and to be guided appropriately," Ban said.
These folks can't bring themselves to use the word "gay" or to allow students to use it in a positive context. That's the exact idea that the Day of Silence is supposed to be targeting. Yes, bullying anyone at school is wrong, but there's a disproportionate amount of bullying directed at LGBTQ youth and people aren't paying attention to it.
The principal may have had the completely benign and naive motives he describes (or he may just be worried about teabaggers calling in with death threats, who knows), but the effective message is that LGBT students have something to be ashamed of and shouldn't speaking up when someone picks on them.
This sort of bullying doesn't go two ways and we shouldn't be operating under the assumption that it does. Doing so is really just pretending that there isn't a problem with homophobic bullying.
Anyway, the local paper also got the obligatory fundie quote, and, as always, if a rightwinger accuses normal human beings of doing something, that means that they're already doing it to a far greater degree. Every. single. time.
[The Illinois Family Institute] issued a news release that said, "Each year, the urgency and importance of opposing the Day of Silence increases because each year the efforts to exploit anti-bullying sentiment and anti-bullying resources in public schools to normalize homosexuality and to censor and demonize conservative views increases."
This entire story is about how an LGBT event was erased and made into a generally anti-bullying event, and the IFI comes out and says that just the opposite happened. Up is the new down.