(CNSNews.com) - National Coming Out Day, an event that marks the anniversary of the 1987 march on Washington in support of "gay and lesbian equality," is drawing fire from family groups, which claim the event can encourage young people to embrace dangerous identities.
Organizers of Coming Out Day on Oct. 11 are hoping for the participation of large numbers of people, which they say has had tremendous success in furthering homosexual issues over the years.
"It is an effort to encourage people to be open and honest about who they are so that others have the opportunity to know a gay person and therefore ... support equality for gay and lesbian people," said David Smith, communications director of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), which is sponsoring the event.
"Every year ... thousands of GLBT [gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender] people and allies have celebrated Coming Out Day in schools, churches and businesses nationwide through workshops, speak-outs, rallies and other events aimed at showing the public that GLBT people are everywhere," the HRC said.
To celebrate the event this year, the HRC is releasing an album called "Being Out Rocks," which features songs by 21 artists, including Sarah McLachlan, Cyndi Lauper and Rufus Wainwright. Proceeds will benefit the Human Rights Foundation, the HRC said.
But family groups criticized the event, saying it encouraged young people to embrace dangerous lifestyles and sexual identities.
Today the homosexual youth movement identifies children as homosexual, bisexual and transgender even before they're fully developed, and encourages "gay-straight alliances" in middle and even elementary schools, said Peter LaBarbera, a senior policy analyst with the Culture and Family Institute.
Twenty years ago, this movement didn't exist, he said.
"It used to be that kids would come out as homosexuals in college years. Now the average age is below high school," LaBarbera said.
Smith said if children identify themselves as homosexual, however, the school should treat them fairly and respectfully and take steps to protect them.
"People come out in many different ways and at different stages of their lives," he said. "The most important issue is if a young person decides to come out and identify as gay, that that young person should be protected and that schools should take steps to make sure that young person ... has access to an education."
The Culture and Family Institute, an affiliate of Concerned Women for America, is supporting "Coming Out of Homosexuality Day," which celebrates people who left the homosexual lifestyle.
Gallup Releases Figures on Homosexuality
The Oct. 11 events coincide with the release of a new poll by the Gallup Organization, which said Americans believe 20 percent of the general population is homosexual.
The average estimates by the public were that 21.4 percent of all men and 22 percent of all women are homosexual, according to an in-depth analysis on homosexuality conducted by Gallup.
"About a quarter of the public thinks that more than 25 percent of Americans are gay or lesbian," the study said.
Family groups said the poll results reflected more the effects of propaganda by homosexual activists and their allies than the facts.
The most reliable sociological studies available show that three to four percent of the population is involved in homosexuality, said Michael Johnston, director of Kerusso Ministries and a former homosexual.
"But you certainly wouldn't know that by listening to the media or listening to homosexual propaganda," he said.
Men and women come out of homosexuality every day, Johnston said.
"What men and women coming out in homosexuality need to understand is that God already knows them," he said. "He does not accept the choices they're making but he does love them and he calls them out of it."
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