April 17th is National Day of Silence, an event that encourages students across the country to remain silent in respect for those who have suffered bullying. Specifically, the event raises awareness for the violence that GLBT students face every day. No matter what your beliefs about homosexual behavior are, this violence is not mere propaganda. I witnessed it firsthand going through school, and the threat of it was what made me—and no doubt countless others—completely silent about my orientation or struggle, whatever you’d like to call it.
Now, a lot of Christians are not supportive of the Day of Silence. For some reason that I really can’t comprehend, they think that raising awareness about school violence perpetrated against gays and lesbians is equivalent to supporting gay and lesbian sexual behavior, which many (including myself) find sinful. I really don’t understand this at all. Sure, the advocacy groups that promote Day of Silence probably don’t like my views on God’s sexual laws.
Heck, I’m sure some people probably don’t think someone like me has the right to speak up against anti-gay violence. I think a liberal commenter on another blog once said I was “worthless” to that cause because of my conservative opinions. But I personally don’t care. This isn’t about what goes on in the bedroom; that’s another debate for another day. This is about what goes on in the classroom, the hallway, and the cafeteria, and I think everyone, no matter what their religious beliefs, can say, “Hey, no one deserves to live in fear in school.”
As an aside, I don’t think attaching yourself to an event makes you 100% supportive of everything those who created the event stand for. I remember when a Roman Catholic student group had a Day of Silence on campus to raise awareness for children killed in abortions. Many Baptist, Methodist, and even a few agnostic pro-life students participated. Surely they had major doctrinal differences, but they didn’t throw “the baby out with the bathwater,” as the saying goes. I think this situation is somewhat similar.
Now, others have criticized the Day of Silence because it focuses on anti-gay bullying alone, when bullying is a much bigger issue. I agree, but honestly, I think a lot of bullying in schools does have its roots homophobia or gender norms. It’s the small guy that can’t catch a ball that’s picked on. It’s the girl with a less feminine figure. The primary negative term that kids are called these days is the f-word. I’ve lived through that, and I’ve worked with kids for the past two summers and during the year. Trust me, I know.
Still, I can understand those who think that Day of Silence is too narrow—or whose conservative religious beliefs keep them from attaching themselves from an event that’s promoted by gay advocacy groups. That’s why I’m glad there is a response in the form of the Golden Rule Pledge.
There should be no agenda there on the part of the student; just a simple response to others saying that you’re going to treat another person the way you would want to be treated. To me, that goes beyond anti-bullying. That says, “Hey, I’m going to listen to you, even if I don’t quite understand where you’re coming from.” It says, “Hey, I’m going to reach out to you with the Gospel, because that’s my job as a Christian and the ultimate way to love another person.” It says, “Hey, I’m going to be humble and merciful and not attack you or anyone else—verbally or physically—because that’s simply not the right way to treat people.” To me, I think that pretty much sums up the Christian response to GLBT people. One that’s compassionate and truthful, and also takes the time to do that almost impossible (but necessary) task of putting oneself in another person’s shoes, if only for a moment.