Counsel's claims? We think they took a Liberty or two
The legal-minded arch-conservatives at the Liberty Counsel are once again gearing up to protest the pro-acceptance Day of Silence, an annual GLSEN-sponsored event wherein students take a vow of silence to protest LGBT bias in school (held this year on 4/25). So as part of their organized attempt to discredit the mission of the pro-gay day and to make the event instead sound like one that is trampling on religious freedom, the group has compiled a list of alleged complaints that they have received from parents across the nation. Check out their claims:
Florida - A principal told a father that if his son was not at school on the Day of Silence that the boy would fail the school year. Indiana - A public school is participating in the Day of Silence against the wishes of some parents. Parents were told that it is "against the law" to cancel the program and that any absences would be unexcused that day. Iowa - A school board member told a former student that a student refusing to speak on the Day of Silence was not anymore disruptive in a school setting than a "Christian wearing a cross." Oklahoma - A high school graduate wrote to her former principal to protest the celebration of the Day of Silence. The principal said that if he did not allow the Day of Silence, he could not allow Bible clubs and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. South Dakota - A student was told that if she is absent on the Day of Silence, she must write a paper explaining why she will not participate.
But you know what? We don't buy any of it for even a second! There is not one ounce of backup to any of the above claims other than the Liberty Counsel's own assertions, and we have been misrepresented by that organization far too many times to ever trust their uncorroborated allegations!
The situation in Florida? If it even happened at all, it very well could be that a student was told that there's a test or speech or something that is imperative that they give on that day, and that an unexcused absence would threaten their grade.
Indiana? Public schools don't have the right to "cancel"the day, since it really isn't school-backed to begin with. And yes, if you say "I'm keeping my kid home because he came down with case of gay non-acceptance," then that very well may be an unexcused truancy.
The Iowa point? Well no, a quiet student is not disruptive. At all. So this most surely a matter that this former student blew out of proportion.
Oklahoma? Again, it sounds like a simple case of a former student with a political agenda hoping to make a political point. If this happened at all, then it sounds like the principal was simply making a point about expression.
The South Dakota situation? Perhaps the paper was offered as a way for the student's absence to be marked as excused rather than unexcused.
Because knowing what we know about the "pro-family" movement, there is absolutely no way that these situations would have happened in the way that Liberty Counsel is describing without their side raising a mega-stink about it! They are certainly not shy about publicizing situations that they think would be helpful to their cause, and we think that they'd be mouth-foamingly eager to make a national example of any one of these situations.
So yea, we call shenanigans on all of the Liberty Counsel's claims. Anyone can present one-sided bits of cursory information in a way that benefits their agenda, and we absolutely think that is what they've done here. If they stand by their claims, then we ask them to reveal more information about the situations so that we can research them a little further. Because while superficial attacks are the vehicles through which their side frequently travels, we who are trying to cut through the spin and get to the heart of these "culture war" battles benefit more from full disclosure and transparency. And if they have no way of providing the clarity that we're seeking on these matters, then they really need to clam up and learn to embrace this reasoned, progressive, peaceful 'Silence'!
Students Have the Right Not to Remain Silent on the Day of Silence [Liberty Counsel]
Precisely! "If they ever happened at all". Perhaps the student(if he is real) in Florida has had so many absences so far and anymore would surpass the limit set by the school.
One thing I learned long ago is that those on the far-right consider truth a theory (like evolution) and not a fact.
Posted by: Jon-Marc | Apr 17, 2008 10:03:04 AM
I TOO would like to see the facts in these cases.
Unfortunately, the religious right have a history of distorting current events.
Posted by: a. mcewen | Apr 17, 2008 11:24:03 AM
The main reason I suspect these allegations of being total B.S. is that schools don't "participate" in the Day of Silence. The only decision a school might make about the event is that if some students choose to observe it, the school won't freak out. But there are no schools telling students to be silent or requiring them to attend mandatory Day of Silence events. But I'm certain that if a teacher had an important oral exam scheduled that day, the school would likely give the student of taking the exam or taking the hit to her or his grade -- which is the exact same choice given to students whose homophobic parents want to pull them out of school for the day for no good reason.
Posted by: Jon | Apr 17, 2008 11:50:08 AM
Ever single one of those claims regarding forced attendance on the day of, are total and complete bunk. But...you know, that's the beauty of the internet: you get to put things in print that you know are complete fabrications or unfair distortions, and regardless of who takes you to task later, the disinformation has been spread and has done its job.
That's not to say I wouldn't love to see Liberty Counsel's response to any claims of fabrication. ;-)
Posted by: zortnac | Apr 17, 2008 1:03:26 PM
"Iowa - A school board member told a former student that a student refusing to speak on the Day of Silence was not anymore disruptive in a school setting than a "Christian wearing a cross.""
Well, that's true. Christian kids wear cross jewelry all the time and it is neither offensive or disruptive. Nor is being silent on DOS. Both are a passive expression of belief that is only disruptive to those who either hate Christianity or hate gays.
"Oklahoma - A high school graduate wrote to her former principal to protest the celebration of the Day of Silence. The principal said that if he did not allow the Day of Silence, he could not allow Bible clubs and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes."
Probably the principle stated that if he blocked the activities of the GSA then he would have to block all non-curricular activities. Again, this is true. The Equal Access Act says that if you allow any non-curricular organizations, you can't ban the ones that you don't like just because they are a Bible Club or a GSA.
Posted by: Timothy | Apr 17, 2008 2:29:15 PM
Yea, Timothy, those two were sort of like "Yea...and?!?"
Posted by: G-A-Y | Apr 17, 2008 2:32:01 PMcomments powered by Disqus