By D’Anne Witkowski
The Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network’s (GLSEN) annual Day of Silence is Friday, April 12, and you know what that means: Silence.
Well, sort of. The anti-LGBTQ right is always very vocal this time of year.
According to GLSEN, the Day of Silence “is a student-led national event where folks take a vow of silence to highlight the silencing and erasure of LGBTQ people at school.”
It sounds, well, pretty tame to say the least (no pun intended!).
But to hear Linda Harvey tell it, the Day of Silence is a “weapon” in a “war on children.”
This war, Harvey writes on the Barb Wire website, “includes pronouns as a battlefield, schools secretly colluding with deeply disturbed children behind parents’ backs and even teachers encouraging students to join private ‘gay’ clubs on Instagram without parental knowledge.”
What? Teenagers on Instagram without parental knowledge? Can you even imagine?
The Day of Silence, which GLSEN has been sponsoring since 2001, is a textbook example of peaceful protest. What are people protesting, you ask?
According to GLSEN, “Nearly 4 in 5 LGBTQ students don’t see positive LGBTQ representation in their curriculum, nearly 8 in 10 experience verbal harassment and almost a third miss school for feeling unsafe or uncomfortable. The Day of Silence is a national movement to highlight the silencing and erasure of LGBTQ students in school, which demands that school leaders take action to be more inclusive.”
Alas, “inclusive” is a dirty word to Harvey. In fact, she doesn’t believe LGBTQ kids are being bullied.
“Here’s how the bullying story goes,” she writes. “We are told that people who claim a homosexual or opposite-sex identity — which no one needs to do, so always keep that in mind — that these folks are relentlessly bullied, are perennial victims and are being ‘silenced’ everywhere. Are you laughing yet? Where and when have homosexuals and their allies been ‘silent’ lately? If only!”
LOL! Those big-mouth homos! Those loud lesbians! Those garish gays! Those booming bisexuals. Those thesaurus-using trans folks. OMG, aren’t you laughing so hard right now about them supposedly being bullied? No? Well, Linda is. She’s not very nice.
I’m struck by her aside that “no one needs to [claim a homosexual or opposite-sex identity], so always keep that in mind.” First of all, I’m not sure what an “opposite-sex identity” is, but Harvey doesn’t know either, so at least we’re even. But I’m struck by her claim that her readers should “always keep that in mind.” It sure sounds like what she’s saying is that no one needs to come out as LGBTQ, and if people choose to come out, well, sucks for them and any bullying they experience they brought on themselves.
She admits that some bullying happens “and that’s never acceptable.” But then she says that LGBTQ oppression is a “phony narrative” and that it’s “quite a stretch” to accuse people of being bullies just because they don’t see LGBTQ bullying as a big problem but they do see the existence of LGBTQ people as a big problem.
“Any person can object to high-risk ‘LGBTQ’ behavior but also, never bully anyone,” Harvey writes (comma placement is all hers). “And of course, faithful Christians believe the Word of God, and so we know this behavior is wrong. So the Day of Silence is an event that, by definition, discriminates against Christians.”
Ah, yes. The old “not being allowed to insist that LGBTQ people are gross and damaged violates my religious beliefs” argument.
Harvey then asks, “Who are the real bullies here?”
You are, Linda. It’s still you. Why are you so bad at this?
Thankfully, Harvey knows how to protect innocent would-be bullies from being unwillingly exposed to the idea that LGBTQ people are human beings worthy and deserving of respect and kindness.
“We are suggesting that parents keep kids home that day and away from the false messages that don’t help anything,” she writes. “Our children will not benefit from lies combined with a flagrant misuse of instructional time.”
OK, so if I’m understanding this correctly, the most hardcore anti-LGBTQ students will be skipping school on Friday, April 12, so that they don’t miss any instructional time. Got it.
It’s interesting that Harvey thinks that the Day of Silence doesn’t “help anything,” and yet she’s urging parents to keep their kids away from school that day lest they be tempted into humanizing or feeling any compassion toward LGBTQ people. Yep, sounds like the Day of Silence is totally ineffective at reaching people, then.
The Day of Silence is, according to Harvey, “a huge con job” intended to normalize “sexual deviance.”
Oh, Linda. Shut up. Shut up for us all.
For more information on how to participate in the Day of Silence, visit glsen.org/day-silence.
— D’Anne Witkowski is a poet, writer and comedian living in Michigan with her wife and son. She has been writing about LGBT politics for over a decade. Follow her on Twitter MamaDWitkowski.