On April 25, antigay activists — among them, Exodus and Focus on the Family — sought to disrupt antiviolence vigils in schools across the country. They sponsored walkouts and demonstrations in which religious activists, parents, and bullies sought to change the topic of the day from stopping violence in schools to venting prejudices and hostility toward gay youths. They followed up their efforts to shout down antiviolence vigils with a religious-right “Day of (Un)Truth” in schools on April 28; that day was dedicated exclusively to broadcasting religious rightists’ antigay prejudices and arrogant religious judgmentalism in public schools during school hours.
Because of antigay authorities’ refusal to stop antigay violence in schools, support for Days of Silence continues to grow. Plans are afoot for Days of Silence are afoot in Russia, Poland and Slovenia — regions where U.S. antigay pastor and Exodus speaker Ken Hutcherson has fueled antigay violence through his co-leadership of the Slavic hate group called Watchmen on the Walls.
Meanwhile in Memphis, Tennessee, a principal is learning the hard way that her hit list against gay students was a bad idea. Daphne Beasley, principal of Hollis F. Price Middle College, sought to crack down on public displays of affection and — based on gossip — included two allegedly gay students on a hit list that was publicly posted to embarrass students and facilitate discrimination.
Neither the students’ mothers nor their attorney were amused. Attorney Bruce Kramer was appalled that a public high school would misuse tax dollars to promote abuse, humiliation, and denial of educational opportunities for honor students due to their perceived orientation. Nicholas, one of the targeted honor students, “underwent further humiliation, in addition to verbal harassment, when taken out of the running for a class trip to New Orleans related to rebuilding efforts, as a risk to the school’s image; Nicholas was told that there were fears he’d embarrass the school by engaging ininappropriate behavior.’” According to Nicholas’ mother, the principal baldly told her there was no room for tolerance in her school.
In Florida, parents of Ryan Skipper — who was killed last year because of his perceived sexual orientation — are asking lawmakers to add a provision to anti-bullying legislation (HB 669) that would specifically ban the harassment of gay or transgendered students in schools.
Despite the killing of several gay Florida youths and young adults in recent years, Exodus International — the North American ex-gay network that is based in Orlando — has refused to acknowledge antigay violence in its youth-related communications surrounding the Day of Silence. Exodus opposes anti-bullying programs that recognize of sexual orientation as a factor in school violence.