Illinois Family Institute’s Response to Day of Silence 2010

The Illinois Family Institute is at it again: The Day of Silence (a student-run initiative during which volunteers don’t speak on behalf of the members of the GLBT community who have been forced to be silent about their sexual identities) is coming up in April and IFI can’t stand any of that “inclusive,” “tolerant,” “accepting” type of behavior:

Parents should call their middle and high school administrators and ask one question: Are students permitted to refuse to speak in class on the DOS? If the answer is yes, or if it is evasive or unclear, call your child or children out of school on April 16.

In other words, their solution to other students’ tolerance is… taking their own kids out of school so they can’t get an education.

*Applause*

Well played, Laurie Higgins. Showing off your group’s collective brainpower on that one…

They act as if their own kids are being forced to participate. Obviously, that’s not the case.

And what’s with that question: “Are students permitted to refuse to speak in class on the DOS?” Students are permitted not to speak in class on any given day. No one is forcing them to talk. In fact, some teachers love it when students choose to remain silent.

And as anyone who has participated in the DOS knows, it’s not “all-silence-all-the-time” that day, anyway. If you have to give a presentation, you give it. If you have to answer questions in class, you do it. This shouldn’t disrupt the school day, and participation is not an excuse to not do your required schoolwork. Hell, if students want, they can maintain their silence in the hallways only.

Higgins’ demand is pathetic, cowardly, and an acknowledgement that IFI members and their children are too weak to handle opposing viewpoints.

If you ask IFI, they’ll tell you (PDF) this isn’t an anti-gay demonstration on their part.

School administrators err when they allow the classroom to be disrupted and politicized by granting students permission to remain silent throughout an entire day. The DOS requires that teachers either create activities around the silence of some or many, or exempt silent students from any activity that involves speaking. Furthermore, DOS participants have a captive audience, many of whom disagree with and are made uncomfortable by the politicization of their classroom.

(By the way, the DOS “requires” nothing from educators. That’s just an outright lie.)

But look at that first line — the issue is with politicization, not homosexuality! Are they being honest? Of course they’re not.

It’s easy to test that claim, too. As it turns out, the DOS is not the only game in town.

Select conservative groups advocate student participation in the “Pro-Life Day of Silent Solidarity” — basically keeping silent in the classroom on behalf of aborted babies.

It’s the same idea with essentially the same rules. And students participate across the country. It’s not like IFI hasn’t heard of it.

Yet, does IFI call for their members to remove their kids from school on this day as well? Isn’t this also a case of politicization of the classroom? Where do they stand on student participation in this case? Where’s the outrage?

There is none.

IFI just acts like this day doesn’t exist.

Go ahead. Search their website. Try and find a mention of it.

This is what I got:

IFI knows they can’t oppose it because their members love what it represents.

They know they can’t support it because it would be hypocritical.

So they ignore it altogether. They plug their ears, close their eyes, and hope no one will notice.

If you want to know why the stereotype of Christians made by non-Christians is so negative, look no further.

I would hope there are some Christians shaking their head right now. How should they respond?

They should contact IFI and let them know how ashamed they are of their actions. Tell them you fully intend to support your child’s participation in the DOS. Or, if that’s not your thing, tell them you have no desire to take your children out of school that day and that you support other students’ right to stand for their beliefs.

Hell, if you really want to upset them, let them know that this isn’t what Jesus would’ve done.

What a sorry group of people at IFI. I’m *so* revoking my membership this year.

  • Valdyr

    Careful, Hemant, she might make another attempt to get you fired–er, I mean, politely and respectfully inform your school’s administration of what you do in your own time, for, oh, I dunno, no reason really.

    Edit: why did my strikethrough tag show up in my message preview, but not after posting? Crazy comment system.

  • lilybird

    SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions) often do a similar thing to draw attention to how many teenagers are killed by drinking and driving. At my old high school, the participants remained silent all day, painted their faces white, and even removed random students from classrooms, who would later return silent and white-faced.

    I don’t remember anyone ever complaining about this.

  • lilybird

    SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions) often do a similar thing to draw attention to how many teenagers are killed by drunk driving. At my old high school, the participants remained silent all day, painted their faces white, and even removed random students from classrooms, who would later return silent and white-faced.

    I don’t remember anyone ever complaining about this.

  • http://www.zazzle.com/godless_monsters Godless Monster

    What is the exact desired effect of these displays? I’m not interested in some namby pamby evasive BS answer…I want to know exactly WHAT is the goal. Exactly who is supposed to be influenced and how?
    If this is just another exercise in free speech, then by all means, state that this is all it is, but it seems that folks are offering this type of activity up as being much more than that. If it is NOT, then it is indeed politicization of the classroom! Also, did past Days of Silence have goals in mind? What were they? Were those goals reached? Who did they effect and how? Please don’t give me the usual “raising awareness” fluff, because it doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. The enemy knows they are oppressive and they know they exclude and punish, and…they take delight in it. Until I am convinced otherwise, I say that the precious time of ALL schoolchildren might be better spent in studying logic and critical thinking.

  • Stan

    I’m still pissed that my school scheduled a no-students conference day on top of the Day of Silence last year. This year it falls on Prom Day, but at least we’ll still be in school that day. Can’t wait.

  • qwertyuiop

    Hypocrisy is nothing new for the IFI, nor religion as a whole.

  • JD

    I think Monster makes a good point. Students are already doing poorly on the education meter. If it were just outside of class, then I think that’s fine. But in class, you have people that are already not participating fully due to silence, then making other people explain what’s about the silence takes away a few minutes from each class, teachers would need to take more time to find and call on non-silent students. Class periods are short enough already.

    Taking other students out isn’t going to help though.

  • Lore

    @Godless Monster

    It is raising awareness though, not of the enemy, as you so eloquently put it. Believe it or not there are people who are unexposed to the plight of homosexuals who must remain silent before they come out. It is supposed to allow students to understand and to be aware that not everyone is like them. It does not stop them from studying logic or critical thinking, and as a recent high school student who participated, it hardly interferes with the school day at all. The Part that it interferes most with is a students social life for ONE DAY.

    The teachers understood what we were doing but they would call on us still, they would still make us give presentations or do class work, but we were allowed to stay silent when we could. The hardest and I think most impactful part of DoS is lunchtime, honestly. When the other students want you to talk to them and you shake your head silently and show them the print out you brought.

    In conclusion, I respectfully disagree about your implication that school is only for knowledge learning. School is as much about the social learning aspect as it is pure facts/critical thinking learning. It is just as important to learn about diversity and people who arent just like you and who doing believe just like you. Thats why it is good for DoS and even the Prolife Day of solidarity or whatever it is. Even if we disagree, it is about awareness to differences.

  • Danny

    I don’t think you read Hemant’s post thoroughly JD:

    And as anyone who has participated in the DOS knows, it’s not “all-silence-all-the-time” that day, anyway. If you have to give a presentation, you give it. If you have to answer questions in class, you do it. This shouldn’t disrupt the school day, and participation is not an excuse to not do your required schoolwork. Hell, if students want, they can maintain their silence in the hallways only.

    I participated the last two years, and simply did not socialise. I participated in class when required, and it really didn’t inhibit anything. My fellow participants were the same. Our DOS (spokesperson?) encouraged us to continue participating in class as need be.

  • http://www.zazzle.com/godless_monsters Godless Monster

    @ JD, what you said.
    Silent protests by kids in schoolrooms can’t possibly do well when subjected to a real world cost-benefit analysis. Now a full-blown riot on the other-hand…just kidding…maybe

  • http://brielle.sosdg.org brielle

    Hey Hemant, can I start a bet on how long it will take for Laurie Higgins to try and get you fired again? :-D

    Anyways…

    Those evil [$insert non-christian group here] again – stomping on puppies, eating babies, and preaching tolerance and understanding! Damn them evil bastards!

    Where is raptor riding jesus when you need him?

  • http://smalldogbigstick.blogspot.com Brittany

    I don’t understand why it’s a bad thing for students to express themselves politically in school. As long as they’re not breaking any rules, who cares? They’re citizens of this nation. They’re allowed to support whatever beliefs and causes they want to support, and if they choose to do so at school, then so be it.

    When I was in high school, I made a patch for my purse that said, “Anti-War.” That was it. I didn’t break any rules, and it didn’t distract anything away from class time.

    If anything, we should be happy that students do care enough to be politically aware about something. When they show this, adults (whether they be administrators, teachers, or parents) shouldn’t discourage it.

  • Jim G

    Typical. GLBT activists ask for a day of silence, a gesture of respect for the truly persecuted – and the “good Christians” of the IFI just won’t shut up.

  • qwertyuiop

    I don’t understand why it’s a bad thing for students to express themselves politically in school. As long as they’re not breaking any rules, who cares?

    It’s only bad when the majority, or the group in power disagrees with it.

    God is love! Gays are evil! Abortion is evil! Sex is evil! Non-believers are evil!

    Those are all OK.

  • http://www.zazzle.com/godless_monsters Godless Monster

    @Brittany…short answer: School is their JOB. Do you protest at work? There’s a time and place for everything.

  • cypressgreen

    Those damn young whippersnappers! They must be *forced* to talk in the hallways, at lunch, and chat while class goes on!

    Well, if a school instructs students that they can’t be silent on their own time in support of GLBT rights, then the students should spend every and all spare moments talking about the GLBT rights problem.

  • TychaBrahe

    Well I don’t protest at work, but I do participate in activism during my free time during the work day. I write to my congressmembers during my lunch break, and I’ve solicited for donations for various things outside, again during lunch. If students want to protest by not talking while they’re in the hallways between classes, why should we object to that.

    Now, Fred Phelps and his GodHatesFags-bots will be downstairs next Monday, and while I will be going outside with a sign and arranging my break accordingly, the temptation to actually protest from work, namely in the form of buckets of water dumped from the window of our office, is strong. Unfortunately for our nation’s IQ average, I am a law abiding citizen.

  • http://www.zazzle.com/godless_monsters Godless Monster

    @TychaBrahe,
    I agree, students should be able to protest between classes. I see no harm in that. Nobody in their right mind would object to such a thing.
    In regards to Phelps & Co…..give ‘em hell.

  • http://arkonbey.blogspot.com arkonbey

    I’m well aware that conservatives have no monopoly on hypocrisy (I’m looking at you and your mansion, Mr. Gore), but it does seem that they have hypocrisy as their default setting. I mean speakers at CPAC were mocking Pres. Obama’s use of teleprompters, while they themselves were using teleprompters.

    I wonder if there have been any studies or at least comparisons on conservative vs. liberal hypocrisy.

  • muggle

    Godless Monster, do you really think my big mouth can be shut up at work? Of course, mostly I refrain it to stuff they’re pulling at work. I don’t sit still for discrimination or unfair treatment. Yet, somehow, I’ve remained steadily employed for 36 years. Imagine that.

    Of course, it’s not the time to picket and you don’t pester your coworkers with political rants any more than they should prostelyze you. But no one’s business if you’re writing letters on your break or joining a march on your lunch. Or what you take a vacation day to do.

    And your friends and you are certainly free to discuss things on your breaks and lunch. And maybe it’s a NY thing but co-workers always discuss whatever’s on the news.

    What the hell’s the problem with kids in school being silent, especially when they’re not disrupting classes? What? You’ve got to be 18 and graduated to have a conscience? I too have got to say it’s great kids are getting involved in their world. They’ll soon be out in it.

  • http://www.zazzle.com/godless_monsters Godless Monster

    @muggle
    You wrote,
    “What the hell’s the problem with kids in school being silent, especially when they’re not disrupting classes?”
    It’s been established to my satisfaction that being silent in class at the very least has the potential to disrupt class, even if in a minor way. The benefits do not outweigh the real or potential disadvantages. How is this not understandable to a group that claims to base everything they believe on sound thinking and logic?
    As far as needing to be 18 and graduated to have a conscience…you are putting words in my mouth. I never said that and I never implied it.
    Also, I do not know you, so I do not know if your mouth can be shut up at work. If you are implying that being emotionally explosive at the workplace is a good thing, well, let’s just agree to disagree. I respect anyone’s right to have an educated opinion, but not to have just any opinion. The religious right does not have a monopoly on silliness. Again, I hold fast to my point of view. There is a time and a place for everything. ’nuff said.

  • http://www.zazzle.com/godless_monsters Godless Monster

    @ Lore
    You wrote, “In conclusion, I respectfully disagree about your implication that school is only for knowledge learning. School is as much about the social learning aspect as it is pure facts/critical thinking learning. It is just as important to learn about diversity and people who aren’t just like you and who doing believe just like you”
    Well reasoned and well written rebuttal. A worthy adversary :-)
    You misunderstood me, however, and that is due to my inadequacy as a communicator and not to any misinterpretation on your end. Mea Culpa.
    I couldn’t agree more with the above statement and should have made my position more decipherable by giving it some background. It is this:
    School like any other job (and it IS a job), is not a democratic institution.
    Now that that is out of the way, I will state (again) for the record that I do not have an issue with protesting outside of the classroom.

  • ckitching

    We all know this has nothing to do with the children being silent during or between classes, and everything to do with the scary “Homosexual Agenda” which intends to turn your kids gay! They firmly believe that unless homosexuals are treated like dirt, more children will “choose” to lead a “homosexual lifestyle” because there are no negative consequences to it. It’s these bizarre mental gymnastics that produces these “loving Christians” who hate gays because it’s the only way to protect people from Hell.

  • http://smalldogbigstick.blogspot.com Brittany

    @Godless Monster,

    No, it’s not their “job.” It’s their education. To think of an education as simply a job is to devalue its importance.

    Besides, the whole purpose of an education is to get educated. Being politically aware of situations and doing something to make others aware (whether or not they ultimately agree or disagree) is part of obtaining knowledge.

    School isn’t just about the subjects; it’s about people and events, both past and present.

  • http://www.zazzle.com/godless_monsters Godless Monster

    @Brittany,
    Education IS a job and there is a huge amount of responsibility that comes with the package. You and others trivialize education by depicting it as some sort of Romper Room for young adults. I couldn’t disagree with you more. You can’t operate successfully in the real world without the correct tools and if you are too busy singing kumbaya and saving the world instead of cracking the books and learning, you won’t be able to save your own ass (much less anyone else’s) once you are out in the cold and facing down reality by yourself. There’s plenty of time for kumbaya outside the classroom…

  • http://smalldogbigstick.blogspot.com Brittany

    @Godless Monster

    Then I guess we have to agree to disagree about schooling as simply an education or as a job.

    However, as an educator, I would fully support my students if they were to hold some sort of protest; as long as it wasn’t disruptive to the school environment.

    Books can only go so far, you know. How successful would a chemistry classroom be without hands-on activities? We teach current events in high school. What better way for students to gain experience and knowledge than by doing something for a cause they care about?

    I’m not saying that school should just be a political playground where anything goes, but everything in moderation is perfectly fine.

    You said you wouldn’t care if students were to protest between classes; what’s so different about these students not socializing during free time? It’s already been stated (a few times) that this protest wouldn’t interfere with class time. If a student participating in the DOS were asked a question, they’d still give an answer.

    So, really, what is so horrible with non-disruptive protests?

  • http://www.zazzle.com/godless_monsters Godless Monster

    @Brittany,
    Again, I say I do not have an issue with non-disruptive protests. Also, nowhere do I impugn the obtaining of knowledge outside of books, nor do I imply there is only one way to teach a subject. I also do not state or imply there is only one way to learn or that only certain subjects are worthy of learning. There is a whole lot of misrepresentation going on here. Read my comments, please.

  • Catherine

    If nothing else, protests like this let lgbt students know that there are people who care about them. Back in the day when I was in school, these sorts of events didn’t exist. Maybe if I had actually heard from someone that being gay was okay, coming out would have been easier for me.

  • http://www.zazzle.com/godless_monsters Godless Monster

    One last comment before I close for the eve. I fully believe that students should be involved in and advocate for, those causes they believe strongly in. Even if it is during lunch or between classes. I have no issue with those sort of activities whatsoever. I only have an issue with those activities once the student passes through the doorway into a classroom. Not only are his/her rights to be acknowledged, but the rights of other students as well. They have a right to an education without having a protest (silent or not) taking place in the seat next to them. What about the rights of the non-protesting students to have an education without distractions?
    Oh, and Catherine, would having someone validate your being gay be any more effective inside a classroom than if it happened right outside the classroom door in the hallway? I think not.

  • Catherine

    @Godless Monster

    Fine with me if people want to keep it to between classes and lunch time. Depending on the classes in question, that might be more noticeable anyways. Just the fact that students want to do that at all makes me happy.

  • http://smalldogbigstick.blogspot.com Brittany

    @Godless Monster

    “Again, I say I do not have an issue with non-disruptive protests.”

    But you have a problem with this protest (“School is their JOB. Do you protest at work? There’s a time and place for everything.”) when it has been stated that it is a non-disruptive one.

    “Also, nowhere do I impugn the obtaining of knowledge outside of books”

    Then perhaps next time it would be wise to fully explain your position so that your statement, “You can’t operate successfully in the real world without the correct tools and if you are too busy singing kumbaya and saving the world instead of cracking the books and learning” isn’t misunderstood.

    “There is a whole lot of misrepresentation going on here. Read my comments, please.”

    Clearly, you’re allowed to say whatever you wish. However, I don’t quite like your attitude. The tone of your last sentence seems to imply that I and other fellow posters are incapable of understanding your posts. As such, you come across as abrasive and insulting.

    If you wish to engage in a meaningful dialogue, then perhaps it would be wise to consider that maybe you aren’t fully explaining your opinions, and are therefore being misunderstood due to your ambiguous communication. It would also be nice to not be so rude to others.

    I realize that I may be coming across as harsh, but I simply do not take kindly to people implying that I am not reading their posts or unable to comprehend what they are saying. That being said, I no longer wish to continue this debate with you.

  • Neon Genesis

    “You can’t operate successfully in the real world without the correct tools and if you are too busy singing kumbaya and saving the world instead of cracking the books and learning, you won’t be able to save your own ass (much less anyone else’s) once you are out in the cold and facing down reality by yourself. There’s plenty of time for kumbaya outside the classroom…”

    So, let me get this straight? Rather than have kids be silent during the classroom and paying attention to the teacher and their assignments, you would rather have kids be noisy and interrupting the teacher because being noisy and interrupting the teacher will help kids focus on studying more? Huh? If you don’t want kids disrupting the classroom and to focus on their schoolwork, shouldn’t you be happy if kids want to be silent in class and pay attention to the teacher even if only one day? I think you have it backwards which one is going to distract them from work. You’re the only person I know who thinks being silent is more distracting than being noisy.

  • http://www.zazzle.com/godless_monsters Godless Monster

    @ Neon Genesis…you wrote,
    “You’re the only person I know who thinks being silent is more distracting than being noisy.”
    Really…
    I never said that and I never implied that. Read my comments(ALL of them) before making bizarre accusations.

  • CG

    @Godless Monster:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tinker_v._Des_Moines_Independent_Community_School_District

    This and other cases form the basis of protection of constitutional rights of students, whether regarding speech, press, or what have you.

    We apply the same standards of liberty v. disruption to adults: there are legal grounds in preventing exercise of liberties if those may conflict with the liberties (or privileges) of others – silent, non-verbal protest can rarely be called disruptive.

    If it’s not disruptive, stare decisis.

  • http://www.zazzle.com/godless_monsters Godless Monster

    @ CG
    If we were arguing this in court, I’d have no choice but to defer to precedent. However, in this instance I’m not calling on court decisions to back my personal opinion.
    My argument is an ethical one, and I cannot think of a single instance in which I would refer to a court case or any law for moral guidance.

  • chegarty

    I’m having quite a lovely e-mail discussion with Laurie Higgins right now. And by “lovely”, I mean “I love to argue with people”.

  • Pingback: A Lovely Interaction With The Illinois Family Institute « The Ground Zone

  • http://hegartyblog.wordpress.com chegarty

    I had a very interesting conversation via e-mail with Laurie Higgins about DOS. It’s up on mia bloggo. Yeah, she’s crazy.


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