(CNSNews.com) - A national pro-family coalition is calling on parents to keep their children home from school on April 18 to avoid the annual "Day of Silence," when some students and faculty members remain mute to "protest the oppression of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth."
"Teenagers deserve an opportunity to study English, history, math and science -- without being subjected to pro-homosexual proselytizing sanctioned by school authorities," said Linda Harvey, president and founder of the conservative group Mission America, in a news release.
"In many cases, at the U.S. taxpayer's expense, the normal school day comes to a screeching halt in an effort to bring attention to the so-called 'hatred, bigotry and name calling' directed toward homosexual individuals," she noted.
"Students shouldn't be forced to self-censor or adopt beliefs contrary to those of their parents and places of worship," Harvey added. "Even the strongest of our junior high and high school children are not equipped to serve as frontline soldiers in this culture war."
Mission America is a member of the NotOurKids.com coalition, which describes itself on its website as "pro-family groups who object to the disruptive political hijacking of America's classrooms by pro-homosexual advocates."
The organization also "seeks to protect America's youth from being pressured to approve of homosexual, bisexual or transgender behavior."
In particular, the coalition "educates parents, teachers and America about the deceptive agenda" behind the annual "Day of Silence," which is a project of the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN).
According to the GLSEN website, the 11th annual national event is being held to protest the "discrimination, harassment and abuse - in effect, the silencing - faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) students and their allies in schools."
During that day, more than 500,000 participants at more than 350 schools are expected to remain mute while wearing stickers and passing out cards that read: "Please understand my reasons for not speaking today. I am participating in the Day of Silence.
"Think about the voices you are not hearing today," the cards note. "What are you going to do to end the silence?"
In a news release on the event, GLSEN stated that its "2005 National School Climate Survey found that more than 64 percent of LGBT students report verbal, sexual or physical harassment at school, and 29 percent report missing at least a day of school in the past month out of fear for their personal safety."
"While some incidents like this do occur, this event is an overwhelming exaggeration in an effort to manipulate our kids' natural sympathies," the NotOurKids.com website states. "The result, ironically, is that youth develop favorable views about a controversial, high-risk behavior."
"The Day of Silence is a one-sided campaign to manipulate acceptance of homosexuality by every student," the NotOurKids site adds. "Nationwide, parents are fed up with the political hijacking of their kids' classrooms."
As Cybercast News Service previously reported, students have an alternative to participating in the "Day of Silence."
On the following day, Thursday, April 19, the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) is holding its annual "Day of Truth" event "to counter the promotion of the homosexual agenda and express an opposing viewpoint from a Christian perspective."
"In the past, students who have attempted to speak against the promotion of the homosexual agenda have been censored or, in some cases, punished for their beliefs," the ADF website states.
"It is important that students stand up for their First Amendment right to hear and speak the truth about human sexuality in order to protect that freedom for future generations," the site adds.
Participating students are encouraged to wear T-shirts and pass out cards - but not during class time - with such messages as "I am speaking the truth to break the silence;" "Silence isn't freedom; it's a constraint;" and "Truth tolerates open discussion because the truth emerges when healthy discourse is allowed."
The ADF website also notes that the "Day of Silence" is part of GLSEN's "overall strategy to change how our society perceives homosexual behavior. But the 'Day of Silence' is a misnomer because what is truly being silenced is the truth."
While a GLSEN representative declined to comment to Cybercast News Service regarding the competing events, Rick Garcia, director of public policy for Equality Illinois, told the Naperville Sun on Wednesday that boycotting the "Day of Silence" flies directly in face of free speech.
Calling the NotOurKids.com mission "sad and pathetic," Garcia told the newspaper that the group is advocating "animosity and bigotry" rather than a healthy school environment.
"These people sound like they'd be a perfect fit for Nazi Germany," he said. "'Let's burn books so our perfect children are not tainted' ... Not our kids. Well, they are your kids. If they think they're going to keep their kids from gay people or a discussion of homosexuality anywhere, they are delusional."
Stephen Bennett of NotOurKids.com responded on Thursday: "How can Garcia -- a homosexual activist -- demand an end to name calling and so-called bigotry when he clearly doesn't practice what he preaches? This is what America needs to see: the real groups who are guilty of the hatred, the bigotry, the name-calling and the intimidation.
"Garcia's statements are a perfect example of why NotOurKids.com opposes these tactics of homosexual activism -- especially within America's public schools - and is calling upon all parents nationwide to pull their children and youth out of school on April 18th if their school is allowing this disruptive 'Day of Silence' protest to take place," he added.
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