Silence

Friday was the Day of Silence, which recognizes the struggles faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) youth. I am ashamed of myself for bot recognizing this on Friday, but so much was going on last week, that i just passed me by without me noticing.  Though the movement has its roots in the United States, it addresses problems that are not specific to any one country, and it requires a broad solution that transcends borders and cultures. Fortunately, international awareness is increasing in the fight against homophobia. We have seen this from international institutions such as the United Nations all the way to the realm of one traditionally challenging environment for LGBT youth: the realm of sports.

Christopher Doyle wrote an editorial for The Christian Post called “Day of Silence: How Christians  Should Respond.”  Doyle, an “ex-gay” man who is now married with three children, wrote, “With the increasing acceptance of homosexuality in American society, Christians are faced with the dilemma of how to respond. Over the years, I have witnessed a number of reactions from Christians.” These reactions range from Christians keeping their kids out of school for the day or, as Focus on the Family suggests, having a Day of Dialogue.  Held on April 18, this day encourages (according to their Facebook page) Bible-believing students to share ” the truth about God’s deep love for us and what the Bible really says about His redemptive design for marriage and sexuality.”

The problem faced by Christian and LGBT students is that too often, these competing days become a source of tension between two different worldviews. Instead of focusing on bullying prevention, a shouting match usually ensues about the cause(s) of homosexuality, from both sides, where no one really listens to each other, and everyone loses.  Focus on the Family is merely encouraging “Christian” students to bully LGBT students when they encourage this Day of Dialogue.  Most students are not mature enough to have a civil dialogue (their parents aren’t either, for that matter), and thus it will seem like LGBT students are being bullied, which is the opposite of what the Day of Silence is supposed to mean.

Doyle wrote that, “As a parent of small children, I could not imagine sending them into a school environment that tolerates insults and name-calling towards a group of human beings. Politics aside. Religion aside. Science aside. It’s just plain wrong!”  Doyle writes of being bullied as a kid because of his homosexuality.  I want to quote the rest of his editorial, because in it he offers his solution:
What if your son or daughter experiences same-sex attraction and you don’t know it? What if a nephew or niece, or another relative, is suffering in silence and doesn’t know what to do? Chances are, you are somehow connected to someone who is either struggling with unwanted same-sex attraction, or identifies as gay. How would you feel if classmates hurled hateful slurs towards your child and you didn’t even know it?

So what should Christians do? Parents would be wise to instill values of empathy, love, and respect in their children on this day, rather than pretend the event doesn’t exist or protest at home because of philosophical or theological differences. Parents, find a local of Day of Silence event and attend. Listen without judgment, and see beyond the children’s homosexual feelings. Look into their heart. Listen to their story. Understand what they’ve been through, and empathize with their pain.

Straight students, join your fellow LGBT classmates and pretend, for one day, that you have homosexual feelings. Just for one day, walk in their shoes and imagine how it feels to be harassed and insulted because of your gender non-conforming behavior. As you tape your mouth shut, close your eyes and step into the shoes of someone who has been hurt for something they didn’t choose. Remember, no one simply chooses to have same-sex attractions; it is the result of many factors.

It doesn’t mean you have to endorse your classmates’ sexual feelings or behavior – in fact, your willingness to surrender your own judgment and preconceived notions about LGBT people, and love them unconditionally even for one day, may be the greatest sacrifice you could ever make for them. After all, isn’t that what Jesus did for all of us?
I added the emphasis above, because it is what I most want to teach my students and what I pray that parents will teach their children, that they will “instill values of empathy, love, and respect in their children.”  Christopher Doyle may have the right idea and he certainly has a unique perspective.  He works with LGBT youth against bullying.  I don’t know a lot about Doyle other than what he writes about himself and that he is the Director of Acception Productions, LLC and the Author/Producer of Acception: Bullying Solutions and Prevention Health Education Curriculum (and Film). I

 wrote last Thursday about the choices we make as LGBT individuals.  One of the choices I wrote about was that of pretending not to be a homosexual and attempting to live a heterosexual life.  That is the choice Doyle made, and though I could not make the same choice, I have to believe that everyone has to make their own choices.  Doyle appears to be using his former homosexual identity to help LGBT youth, not through aversion therapy, but by helping to prevent bullying.

About Joe

I began my life in the South and for five years lived as a closeted teacher, but am now making a new life for myself as an oral historian in New England. I think my life will work out the way it was always meant to be. That doesn't mean there won't be ups and downs; that's all part of life. It means I just have to be patient. I feel like October 7, 2015 is my new birthday. It's a beginning filled with great hope. It's a second chance to live my life…not anyone else's. My profile picture is "David and Me," 2001 painting by artist Steve Walker. It happens to be one of my favorite modern gay art pieces. View all posts by Joe

2 responses to “Silence

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