Focus on the Family’s revised Day of Dialogue seems to be a kinder, gentler version of the former Day of Truth. On the new website, the group comes out strongly against bullying:
Any form of bullying and harassment of others is always wrong, including making fun of others, speaking down to them and saying things that hurt people. Christian students in particular should be bold in speaking up to oppose that kind of behavior because it goes completely against the model Christ gave us and that is reflected in Bible verses like these: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.” John 3:16-17.
They also emphasize that any objections to homosexuality must be expressed in a respectful manner.
Any verbal and written expressions used by students participating in this event should be loving and compassionate—and never be expressed in a condemning or antagonistic way to others. Even when we disagree with others, we should always demonstrate the utmost compassion and respect for them.
While I appreciate this tone, I wonder what kind of dialogue the sponsors hope to create. Let’s set the stage for the proposed dialogue. The DoD is set to take place on Monday, April 18, 2010, the Monday after the Friday the Day of Silence is observed. On the Day of Silence, some students are silent during non-instructional time to dramatize the silence surrounding the harassment and bullying of students who identify as GLBT or those who are perceived to be a sexual minority. The sponsors suggest providing cards to pass out which “speak” for them. Here is what they say:
Please understand my reasons for not speaking today. I am participating in the Day of Silence (DOS), a national youth movement bringing attention to the silence faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and their allies. My deliberate silence echoes that silence, which is caused by anti-LGBT bullying, name-calling and harassment. I believe that ending the silence is the first step toward building awareness and making a commitment to address these injustices. Think about the voices you are not hearing today.DAY of SILENCE – What are you going to do to end the Silence?
This would be one side of a dialogue. What is the other side? Is there another side? The DoS invites a dialogue about ending bullying relating to perceptions of sexual orientation. What kind of dialogue is envisioned by the DoD? From the website:
As a high school or college student, do you sometimes feel discouraged when controversial subjects like homosexuality are brought up in your school—and the conversation seems stifled, one-sided and doesn’t allow free room for discussion? Do you feel like your beliefs—the deepest truths of Christianity—are being mischaracterized?
Wish your classmates could hear more of the story—like the truth about God’s deep love for us and what the Bible really says about His redemptive design for marriage and sexuality? Wouldn’t it be nice if a deeper and freer conversation could happen?
As it stands, on Friday, the DoS students will ask for a conversation about anti-gay name-calling and bullying and then on Monday, the DoD students will answer with a defense of evangelical beliefs about sexuality. To me, that seems like two groups talking about two different things.
And so, I will continue to promote the Golden Rule Pledge during the days surrounding the “Days.” GRPledgers will join with those calling for an end to anti-gay bullying and offer that response to the question: “What are you going to do to end the Silence?” In addition, I encourage students to be keep the dialogue about ending bullying on the DoD.