Ware Farms

Speaking truth to prejudice

Monday, April 24, 2006


How Loud the Day of Silence

My two previous posts have to do with my views on the limits of anti-gay speech by high school students. If Christians or others wish to propose a more positive alternative to the "gay lifestyle," then they are free to do so. If, instead, they say hateful or demeaning things about gays, I don't care if they're based on religion or come from the Bible, this type of speech cannot be allowed among vulnerable children whose presents is mandatory.

An appropriate expression of views in school is the "Day of Silence" scheduled for this coming Wednesday, April 26. Nearly a half million students in over 4000 colleges and high school will remain silent for the school day to remind us of how gays and lesbians have had to remain silent about their existence in the past and even today.

In the 1950's when I was in high school, I certainly didn't know that anyone was gay. The silence was unbreakable.

In an opinion piece in the Tacoma, WA News Tribune, Brent Hartinger relates his experience thirty years later:
Gay and lesbian Americans and their allies are finally making themselves heard. Even in some high schools.

It wasn't always this way. I first joined the gay youth movement back in 1989, when I helped establish Oasis, a Tacoma support group for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered youths. Only one of our 150 members was “out” at school, and he was receiving death threats.

Death threats, imagine. Speech can't get any more hateful than that. An anti-gay blogger a while ago (I can't remember where, SAT) mentioned that at least we don't put gays to death like they do in Iran and Iraq, as if gays should be so thankful for that concession that they refrain from asking for anything more.

I see that that the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN), which helps promote the Day of Silence, lists 11 high schools in Tennessee with Gay Straight Alliances (GSA's), which is far lower than the 80 per state average. Needless to say, Rhea County HS isn't among them, (although we do have a JROTC unit we're quite proud of).

This doesn't mean that no students here will be participating. I'll check the local paper and get back to you. Say, I've gotten to know the editor, with all my Letters to the Editor and all, so I'll e-mail him to see if he knows if students here will be participating and tell him I'd be eager to read about it if they are.

In fact, here's the e-mail:

I see that the National "Day of Silence" is being held this Wednesday in schools around the country. After that fiasco in March two years ago with the County Commissioners "Banning Gays from Rhea County" and the "Gay Day in Rhea County" response two months later, I'd be interested to know if any of our students in Rhea County High School will be joining in the "Day of Silence" activities. If they are, I'd be pleased to read about it in the paper.

William J. Ware, Sr.
Spring City

The reminder about the County Commissioners "Banning gays from Rhea County" is no joke. When I saw a few lines about it in the print addition of USA Today, I googled the net to see how wide spread our embarrassment should be. I found that Ed Brayton had given us his famous "Idiot of the Month" award on his blog. That's the day I made my first blog comment. I started this blog five months later.

I hope that the Day of Silence is a "roaring" success; that it proves how loud Silence can be.

Update: Our esteemed editor, JC, hasn't heard of any Day of Silence activities here in Rhea County. So I replied:

"Hmm. This is rather enigmatic. If someone were planning such an event, then they would seek publicity to see that their "message" was getting out to as many people as possible. If no one is willing to speak to this issue, then if shows how desperately we need such an event in the first place."


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