November 11, 2010
Focus on the Family announced Thursday it will take over sponsorship of an annual student-led event against homosexuality.
The event is called the Day of Dialogue, formerly known as the Day of Truth.
“We want to offer students the facts (about homosexuality) to engage a dialogue in schools,” Focus spokesman Gary Schneeberger said.
Focus today launched the website Dayofdialogue.com, a resource for students interested in being part of the homosexual protest next April.
“The Day of Dialogue gives you, as a student, the opportunity to express the true model presented by Jesus Christ in the Bible (on homosexuality),” the website says.
For years the protest was held by school students as a rebuke to the Day of Silence, supported by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, or GLSEN, to foster gay tolerance.
On Oct. 6 Exodus International, an Orlando, Fla.-based ministry coalition that claims to help gay people become straight, announced it would no longer sponsor the Day of Truth because of the rash of gay bullying.
In September, five gay American students took their lives reportedly due to repeated bullying.
Focus resurrected the anti-gay program to balance the dialogue on homosexuality in schools, Candi Cushman, Focus education analyst, said in a news release.
“We’re trying to raise awareness that more than one side needs to be heard on the issue of homosexuality, and we’re helping to ensure that Christian students have the chance to express their viewpoint,” Cushman said.
GLSEN spokesman Daryl Presgraves said Focus’ decision is a setback to curbing gay bullying at schools and colleges.
“Focus supports a destructive and divisive message that is inappropriate for young people,” Presgraves said.
But Schneeberger said Focus wants to offer high school and college students an alternative view on homosexuality and decries bullying. “It is not a moral act to bully people because they are different from you,” Schneeberger said.
The Day of Silence was created in April 1996 by students at the University of Virginia, Presgraves said. It supports gays who feel they need to be silent about their sexual orientation. Students participate by remaining silent throughout the day.
Over the years the Day of Silence, held annually in April, was adopted by students at high schools and other colleges across the country.
Last April, students from more than 7,500 schools participated, Presgraves said, including students at at least 21 Colorado Springs high schools. Brittany Harden was one of about 60 Palmer High students who took part.
“It is for the (gay) people who are afraid to speak up,” and for those who’ve died or committed suicide due to bullying, Harden, 17, said.
GLSEN became a sponsor of the Day of Silence in 2001. Five years later the Alliance Defense Fund, a conservative Christian law group, organized the Day of Truth as a rebuke to the Day of Silence. Soon after, Exodus International took over sponsorship. More than 10,000 students have participated in the Day of Truth, Schneeberger said.
Both observances are student-led. Schools and colleges do not participate or organize the events.
Focus maintains that the Day of Dialogue will have the same goal as its predecessor — “encouraging honest and respectful conversation among students about God’s design for sexuality,” Cushman said.
Go the Barna’s blog, The Pulpit, at www.thepulpit.freedomblogging.com, for more on this story.