Speaking of protecting our LGB neighbors from discrimination, the Family Heritage Alliance is really mad that political special interests are using the public schools to push their sexual ethics.
O.K., wipe your tears, and let’s hear FHA out. They get word that Sioux Falls Lincoln students will be participating in the “Day of Silence” pro-LGBT anti-bullying protest on Friday. FHA posts a warning from American Family Alliance president Tim Wildmon that the student-run Day of Silence is really “organized behind the scenes by adults with the enthusiastic cooperation of school officials” receiving “materials and instructions from a national homosexual activist group” (also known as the Gay Lesbian and Straight Education Network). Wildmon exhorts (really, exhorts, in bold print) FHA followers to “actively oppose this hijacking of the classroom for political purposes and help de-politicize the learning environment by calling your child out of school if your child’s school participates, promotes or allows ‘Day of Silence’ activities.”
FHA links to the Illinois Family Institute, which includes this complaint in a sample letter for parents to excuse letting their kids be truant to protest the Day of Silence:
The administration errs when it allows the classroom to be disrupted and politicized by granting students permission to remain silent throughout an entire day. The protesters have a captive audience, many of whom disagree with and are made uncomfortable by the politicization of their classroom. How many political protests will the school allow, and who decides which political issue will be permitted to disrupt the educational process? [Illinois Family Institute, sample letter for parents, downloaded 2016.04.16]
Shoe, meet other foot. Theocrats want to be able to use public resources to hand out their religious materials, teach their creation myths, and hold ostentatious prayers in front of captive audiences to affirm their specific religion. But when a group organizes students to engage in First Amendment exercises that don’t affirm an Angry God, FHA suddenly rails against outside groups “hijacking” the classroom and subjecting their vulnerable children to dastardly acts of silence.
Heck, I wish FHA would get that mad about Pepsi, Coke, and other corporations hijacking our classrooms with their commercial propaganda, turning our kids into craving materialists.
And double heck, as a teacher, there’s part of me that says to GLSEN, “Oh, you want to encourage kids to be quiet for a day? O.K.!”
Students have a constitutional right to free speech. They can pray before their algebra test. They can keep silent to protest anti-trans bullying. But the ACLU reminds you, kids, that your right to remain silent applies only to non-instructional time: if a teacher asks you a question in class, you should respond. If you are in speech class and Friday is your day to give a speech, you’d better be ready to break your silence and give your speech.
If FHA wants promote Godly speech in the public sphere, it has to tolerate other forms of Constitutional expression. When they demand the floor for their prayers and readings of Genesis but threaten to walk out if anyone offers an opposing view, they lose their moral authority to pronounce on First Amendment issues.