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Government Imposed Silence
Day of Silence coming to your school?

[Tim LeFever] 4/7/06

According to a memo from four associate superintendents in the Sacramento City Unified School District, that District’s Board of Education is expected to approve a resolution that will proclaim a Day of Silence “to recognize the silencing of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning people due to discrimination everyday in our society.”

The accompanying resolution is rife with references to the harassment and discrimination that affect not only lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) students, but apparently “straight allied youth and adults.” The consequence of such harassment, the resolution states, is that the victims are “effectively denied equal access to an equal education.”

Guest Contributor

Tim LeFever is Chairman of the Board of Capitol Resource Institute, California's leading pro-family grassroots advocacy group. [go to Guest index]

Without a doubt, LGBT individuals have traditionally been regarded as different and even stigmatized by the broader population. That broader population has been asked, justifiably, to show tolerance for this nonconformity. But, in this proposed resolution and legislation pending in the California Legislature, the plea for toleration has morphed into a demand for indoctrination.

It should go without saying that in schools, and in society in general, harassment exists for many more reasons than real or perceived sexual identity. It should also go without saying that the underlying issue to this resolution, the acceptability of homosexuality, is controversial. Clearly, a major portion of the population has moral, even religious objections to such behavior. And most of these objectors do not express their objections through harassment or violence.

The proposed resolution seeks to use the authority of the school to sanction a showing of solidarity with a specific group of potential victims of harassment. In doing so, schools are not being asked to tolerate, but to advocate for the acceptability of homosexuality.

As this resolution is being debated, California’s Senate Judiciary Committee has just passed out of committee SB 1437 requiring that public school social science curriculum show the contributions of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.

It is not that these government bodies are taking the wrong position on the issue of homosexuality; it is that they are taking any position at all. Not that long ago, the sexual nonconformists felt shame for their nonconformity. Increasingly, those who disapprove of this nonconformity are being stigmatized.
One mild e-mail on the subject of the resolution encourages readers to “Counter the Christian Right on Day of Silence Resolution”. The less restrained have predictably begun to label the resolution opponents as “homophobic”. The stated goal of eliminating harassment has given way to the transfer of stigma.

No credible party is in favor of violence or harassment aimed at LGBT individuals. But where is the tolerance for the beliefs of those who are convinced that this nonconformity is wrong or even immoral? School is mandatory for minors, and private education is not an option for most. Shouldn’t a parent be able to teach a child that certain behavior is wrong without the threat that the school will counter this teaching?

And how should the morally opposed student react to the school mandated silence? Their own silence could communicate sympathy on this issue. A refusal to be silent runs the risk of being labeled “homophobic” or otherwise harassed for these beliefs. Should we expect a subsequent, school board sanctioned day of silence for all students who have been harassed for their moral opposition to homosexuality?

Government advocated silence does not promote free thought. It silences opposition. In this case, it is the government that should remain silent. CRO

copyright 2006 Capitol Resource Institute





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