I have a hair-trigger sensitivity for the protection of LGBT youth. Even if an action is wrapped in heart-themed paper and tied with a Jesus-loves-you ribbon, when there is something rotten inside, I can smell it…
And there is something very rotten at the core of the “Day of Dialogue” event sponsored by the conservative Christian ministry Focus on the Family.
Day of Dialogue, scheduled for April 19, 2012, “encourage(s) student-initiated conversations about the fact that God cares about our lives, our relationships and our sexuality.” I think it would be more honest to call it the “Seventh Annual Tell the Gay Kids They Need to Change for God to Love Them Day.”
Focus on the Family actively warns followers against the inclusion of protection for gender identity and sexual orientation for children.
In “Parents Beware,” published in CitizenLink (an affiliate of Focus on the Family), Day of Dialogue coordinator Candace Cushman warns of “red flags to watch for” in schools, such as:
- School partnerships with outside advocacy groups that have names like the “Safe Schools Alliance” or “Welcoming Schools.”
- “Anti-bullying” polices that list special protections for “sexual orientation” or “gender identity.”
Currently, under federal law, religion, sex, country of origin, race and disabilities are protected classes; sexual orientation and gender identity are not yet included.
The Safe Schools Information Act, Student Non-Discrimination Act and Elementary and Secondary Education Act renewal, which all include gender identity and sexual orientation designations, are scheduled to be voted on in the next Congress. Focus on the Family advises followers to not support their inclusion in these legislations.
Day of Dialogue is unmistakably a reaction to Day of Silence; it directly precedes the Day of Silence. (Historically, it has been immediately following Day of Silence.)
Students and schools are encouraged to share the problem of anti-LGBT behaviors. Focus on the Family views the efforts of GLSEN as “promoting homosexuality to our kids.”
Looking at the history of Day of Dialogue:
- It was first instituted in 2005 as Day of Truth by the Allied Defense Fund (ADF). ADF was founded in 1994 by a group of men which included: James Kennedy (Coral Ridge Ministries, who, until his death preached against anti-discrimination protection for gays); Donald Wildmon (founder of American Family Association, a group on the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Hate Groups list for disseminating anti-gay propaganda); and James Dobson (former founder of Focus on the Family, who has stated he would “rather lose my entire ministry than see marriage equality”).
- In 2009, ADF announced the leadership role of Day of Truth would be passed on to Exodus International , “the world’s largest ministry offering a redemptive perspective on homosexuality.” Until recently, the message of Exodus had been that “change is possible from homosexuality to heterosexuality” and they now admit this is not possible.
- In 2010, Focus on the Family announced it had become the new official sponsor of Day of Truth and changed the name to Day of Dialogue.
Oh, and that’s not all . . . Focus on the Family founded the Family Research Council (FRC) in 1983 as the political arm of Focus and, in 1992, FRC became its own entity.
FRC was immediately extremely active in anti-gay activities producing the horribly biased, myth-filled video series “The Gay Agenda in America.”
FRC, also on the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Hate Groups list, is the most vocal conservative family group with its tendrils in every same-sex marriage vote. Along with Focus, they actively oppose federal anti-discrimination bills that would protect children from harassment due to sexual orientation or gender identity.
Escalating the discrimination of gay and transgender youth further, several Christian ministries are calling for a Walkout on Day of Silence by Christian students on the Day of Silence. Nine of the groups behind this action are on the Hate Groups lists and all actively work against the inclusion of sexual orientation and gender identity protections for students in federal bullying laws.
Most adult Christians I interact with are embarrassed by the anti-gay sentiments portrayed as typical Christian behavior. They are tired of the ill-treatment of the gay community.
Focus on the Family, along with many of the groups with which it associates, is guilty of anti-gay rhetoric. This must stop. Disagreement about Bible verses does not validate discrimination. Allowing Focus on the Family to export their historical and counter-productive sacred discrimination of the LGBT community to Christian youth is a mistake.
Day of Dialogue is a mistake.
P.S. Dear Candace Cushman, head coordinator of Day of Dialogue @Focus on the Family: How about a “Jesus Hearts You Day” the day before Valentines Day? That might be more along the lines of the Gospel.