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Bigots fight silence with loud mouths

Ah, it’s never too early to teach students how to be intolerant bigots. What better place to start than Hillsborough County? Well, don’t worry County Commissioner Brian Blair is on it!

Blair has made it his personal mission to save Hillsborough County students from the National Day of Silence, an observance sponsored by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) and led by college, middle and high school students to try and make campuses safe for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) students.

Students participating in the project take a vow of silence and sometimes pass out information cards as a way of symbolically breaking the silence on the name-calling, bullying and harassment LGBT students and their allies suffer in schools. Fortunately, though, Blair is fighting to keep the exercise in consciousness-raising out of public schools.

In a mass e-mail sent to undisclosed recipients, Blair urged people to protest the student-led – not school-led – event, in which he claimed students from at least seven local schools might be participating.

“No group of citizens should be given government sanction to promote their social and sexual agenda on the rest of us and especially our children,” Blair wrote.

In the e-mail, he cited an American Family Association (AFA) “action alert” which warned parents of the dangers of such events taking place among their children.

“No school should advance a physically, emotionally and spiritually destructive sexual lifestyle to students,” the AFA call to action reads. “You can fight for your children too!”

Right on, AFA! After all, why would anyone want to encourage students to acknowledge the millions of LGBT people living in the U.S. and raise awareness of the aggression and violence they still face? It was bad enough that the media had to jump all over the case of Lawrence King, to whom this year’s Day of Silence is dedicated. I mean, just because King was shot to death in school by an eighth-grade classmate – because of his sexual orientation – doesn’t mean it needs to be addressed!

So what if GLSEN’s 2005 National School Climate Survey revealed that 4 out of 5 LGBT students experience verbal, physical or sexual harassment at school and that more than 30 percent said they missed at least a day of school in the past month because they feared for their safety? Why do we need to sully the minds of perfectly normal students with such rubbish?

After all, LGBT students are asking for trouble – just ask AFA chairman Donald Wildmon.

“Homosexual behavior is not an innate identity; it is a sinful, unnatural and destructive behavior,” Wildmon reminds the parents of America in the organization’s action alert. “The Day of Silence is a one-sided campaign to manipulate acceptance of homosexuality by every student. Nationwide, parents are fed up with the political hijacking of their kids’ classrooms with no opposing views allowed.”

Sure, there are indeed many counter-observances organized in response to the Day of Silence, including the Day of Truth that the AFA itself endorses in which students gather to promote “positive alternatives” to homosexuality and nontraditional gender expressions – but that doesn’t really count.

“What makes [the observance] even more problematic is that the results of ‘tolerating’ this lifestyle without objection can be tragic for many young people,” Wildmon warns. “The risks of homosexual behavior are well-understood by public health officials, but are being ignored by some politically correct school administrations.”

Just look at the growing HIV/AIDS rates! I know, I know – the Centers for Disease Control reported that the biggest group of new HIV/AIDS infections in 2007 was heterosexual females, but that’s probably just an oversight.

All this, and there is still the issue of what a classroom disruption the Day of Silence makes. Imagine the uproar a group of silent students would make in an educational setting.

“Schools do not have to tolerate students remaining silent in class,” Wildmon insists.

Although GLSEN reports that while some students remain silent for the whole day, many choose to be silent for only a portion of the day, like during lunch. GLSEN also encourages students to participate in the Day of Silence only with permission and in accordance with their schools’ ordinances on their official Web sites.

Whatever. Luckily there are people like Wildmon and Blair to be America’s sexual and moral watchdogs and protect the nation’s children from the dangerous teachings of non-violence and tolerance of a bunch of subservient rapscallions.

In fact, if Day of Silence participants are spotted on campus, give them a good scolding. Maybe yell at them or push them out of the way or punch them in the face and call them “dykes” and “faggots.” That will be sure to let them know how unwelcome they are on campus. That will be sure to let them know what a backwards, bigoted and intolerant society they live in.

Renee Sessions is a senior majoring in creative writing.