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Gays' right to live and learn in peace: Not a 'but on the other hand...' back-and-forth!

by Jeremy Hooper

What the social conservatives fail to understand is that the concepts of equality and non-discrimination are not fodder for two-sided conversations. Or at least they shouldn't be. Acceptance, or at the very least tolerance, is the one, true, principled goal towards which we all should be working.

But to the "pro-family" crowd, LGBT peace is an arena in which their viewpoint must be represented, or else that arena is too "liberal" or "anti-religion" or constitutes "indoctrination." If a TV or radio program hosts a discussion on something like coming out, yet doesn't also feature a voice from the scientifically-rejected "ex-gay" crowd, then they say that program is skewed. Or if the basic concept of civil marriage equality arises, they insist that it's completely equal footing to have someone who uses their own personal faith against gays' unions on hand to counter the constitutional arguments. We LGBT people are a minority population towards whom it is still all-too-acceptable to show discriminatory hostility, and the gay community's organized opposition works this unfortunate reality for all it's worth.

Which brings us to the Day of Silence. The GLSEN-initiated event, meant to curb school bullying, has been going on since Yhst-17095570525972 2100 833070-21996. This week (on Friday, April 16), public school students across the nation will peacefully respect the day and its righteous desire to protect ALL students. Those who don't care to participate don't at all have to. They can simply ignore their fellow pupils' efforts. And if religious parents want to counter the pro-tolerance, pro-safety, anti-bullying message at home or in church, nobody is stopping them. All GLSEN and the Day of Silence participants are saying is that every single public school student, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression, has a right to attend a public school that's free from harassment. Period.

But of course that simple wish won't fly with Team Stop Da Gays At All Costs. For the past five years, the "ex-gay" organization Exodus Screen Shot 2010-04-13 At 9.06.14 Am-2International, along with the uber-far-right lawyers at the Alliance Defense Fund, have been holding the egregiously named, offensively motivated "Day of Truth" on the day before or after GLSEN's own anti-bullying event. The anti-LGBT event is largely ignored, both by students and the media. But what has happened is that in the past five years, the social conservatives have slowly repositioned this annual school time so that it sounds like yet another two-sided conversation where both sides are equally meritorious. Like for instance, check out this headline from Focus on the Family:

Day of Silence, Day of Truth Make Bid to Influence the Nation's Youth [Focus on the Family]

See what they do? They create a DOS/DOT, tomato/tomahto kind of situation. Where there was once one principled effort meant to unify, there are now two competing efforts with diametrically-opposed goals. Of course the "Day of Truth" crowd claims they want to stop bullying as well. They're clever (and carefully workshopped) like that. But in reality, their event is 100% about telling students that LGBT people are wrong, immoral, and both capable and in need of "change." It is sponsored by groups who routinely go into court to oppose even the most basic of civil rights protections, and who set up annual conferences where participants are told that Jesus can cure them of their homosexual "sickness." It doesn't matter what they say in their "DOT" press materials. It doesn't matter hoe stealthily they cover their tracks with carefully worded talking points. The truth -- the real form, not the form that they bastardize as their day's direct object -- is that they are fomenting a hostile, anti-scientific, wholly evangelical-based mindset that deserves ZERO entrance into the public school day!

Yet here we are, with self-appointed moral authoritarians once again telling kids, parents, school officials, the media, and anyone else who will listen that the elementary, should-be-no-brainer concept of simply tolerating LGBT people as part of the natural spectrum, and therefore part of the school day, is a choice rather than a demand. These groups have created a buffet, telling folks that their offerings are just another option for sustaining society. But the reality, of course, is that their plan makes a meal out of certain kind of existences and certain kinds of rights. Yuck.

Will the media continue to ignore, or better yet, refute, the "two-sided conversation" meme? Maybe, maybe not. But it's obvious (and odious) that that the far-right groups are trying to wear everyone down so that this annual time of the school year will start to seem like just another "culture war," where the desire to live in peace vs. the desire to impose one's own moral compass into certain people's lives is largely said to be a "let's agree to disagree" kind of situation. For those of us who agree that LGBT people are decent, normal, and fit for a fair shake at this whole humanity thing, our disagreement with this point/counterpoint mentality must be loud, staunch, and unwavering!


**SEE ALSO: And of course there's the even more fringe effort of keeping kids home from school on the DOS day: Truancy in the name of God [G-A-Y]

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