By Kathy Baldock
I have a hair-trigger sensitivity for the protection of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (glbt) 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. There is something very rotten at the core of the Day of Dialogue event sponsored by the conservative Christian ministry Focus on the Family.
I raised my family on Biblical principles I learned from Dr. James Dobson at Focus; we rarely missed the radio-drama “Adventures in Oddessy.” I was a regular listener and donor. And now, I do not trust Focus on the Family. There, I said it. I do not trust them. Their Day of Dialogue event is thinly disguised sacred discrimination of gay and transgender youth.
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 has a miserable record in successful and productive engagement with the glbt community. They actively warn 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 “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. 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.
In the “Guiding Principles” for Day of Dialogue, there is an anti-bullying statement, yet Focus does not recognize the right for the
protection of children under the classifications of gender identity and sexual orientation. (Be sure to watch “Bully” when it comes to your city and then consider “Why wouldn’t every Christian ministry actively support the federal protection of gay and transgender children?”)
If this program were really focused on the message of God’s care and love for fellow students, why does it directly precede the Day of Silence? (Historically, it has been immediately following Day of Silence.) Day of Silence, sponsored by the Gay, Lesbian Straight Education Network (GLSEN), began in 1996 to bring attention to anti-GLBT name calling, bullying and harassment in schools. Students and schools are encouraged to share the problem of anti-GLBT behaviors. Focus on the Family views the efforts of GLSEN as “promoting homosexuality to our kids.” Day of Dialogue is unmistakably a reaction to Day of Silence; to promote it as anything less is to be quite disingenuous.
- Focus on the Family gearing up for annual pro-bullying day (dailykos.com)
- Focus On The Family Bullying ‘Expert': GLAAD’s ‘Blacklist’ Is The Real ‘Hate’ (thinkprogress.org)
- Focus on the Family’s ‘Day of Dialogue’ Horror Movie Trailer: VIDEO (towleroad.com)