For awhile now, my youth have been asking to talk about the issue of gay rights and gay marriage. For some, the interest is very personal as they have members of their family or close friends who are gay. For others it is an issue of justice. And for some, it is simply a matter of curiousity: What does the Bible really say about all this? This Sunday we'll finally tackle the topic, partly by reflecting on The National Day of Silence.
Last Friday was the National Day of Silence which invites students to remain silent for an entire day as a sign of solidarity with those youth who must remain silent in the face of intolerance and bullying, particularly GLBT teens. I actually participated in The Day of Silence several years ago at my seminary. GLSEN, the organizers of the observance, emphasize that:
2) Hundreds of thousands of students of all beliefs, backgrounds and sexual orientations participate in the Day of Silence.
1) The Day of Silence’s purpose is to bring attention to anti-LGBT name-calling, bullying and harassment and effective
3) Day of Silence participants encourage schools to implement proven solutions to address anti-LGBT name-calling, bullying and harassment.4) The day is a positive educational experience.
Unfortunately, an event designed to promote understanding, justice, and mutual care for all students has often stirred up protest from certain Christian groups who can't seem to separate advocating respect for GLBT teens from their own issues about sex. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that students in my old high school in Jefferson City, Missouri actually participated in the observance this year and the school allowed it. But of course the local paper saw plenty of dissent from some Christians in the community who couldn't help but raise the spectre of the "homosexual agenda." Still, it's good to know that even in my conservative hometown in Mid-Missouri, the tide is changing and perhaps life for ALL students in my ala mater will be just a little bit better in years to come. Here is an excellent reflection on The National Day of Silence by Melissa, a youth pastor who serves a baptist congregation in my hometown.
The bottom line here is, the Day of Silence and its supporters are asking us to consider whether or not our schools are safe space for all youth, including GLBT teens. The question I will pose to my youth this Sunday: Is our youth group a safe space for all youth, including GLBT teens?
How would your group answer that question?