Inderkum High, one of three Sacramento schools where Christian students were penalized for objecting to the “Day of Silence” homosexual advocacy
Dozens, perhaps hundreds, of students in several Sacramento area school districts are being penalized by school officials for objecting to the homosexual advocacy “Day of Silence,” according to a law firm handling many complaints.
“We are looking at our options. If our affiliate attorneys come forward and help us with these … there might be dozens of lawsuits. I believe we have enough good attorneys both in skill and as a matter of conscience to step up to the plate,” Kevin Snider, the chief counsel for the Pacific Justice Institute told WND.
“We should be able to do a full-court press on all of these,” he said.
The issues arose during the annual “Day of Silence,” last week at Inderkum, Rio Linda and San Juan high schools. That is an event promoted by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network organization, which advocates for the homosexual lifestyle and promotes educating children in that choice.
During that event, students go around school during the day without speaking, and they hand out cards stating they are protesting the “discrimination” against the homosexual lifestyle.
Many schools allow such activities without penalty, although one Illinois school has in the past notified students while they had the choice to participate, teachers were not obligated to facilitate that activity by allowing them not to answer questions.
A year ago, the following e-mail went to students at the Urbana school, where participation in the GLSEN event is declining:
“A reminder: Protest often brings with it consequences. Are you willing to pay the price or is this a game you are playing?
“Sometimes those consequences are positive as in change of heart or feelings for someone else or for an idea. Sometimes they can be negative as in a grade reduction for failure to participate in a class. Please note that instruction and the teacher in charge of the instruction is not out to ‘get’ the student or to protest the Day of Silence if they ask you to communicate. Sometimes meaningful instruction must have an exchange of ideas via speech. If this is the case and the teacher requires a verbal exchange and you refuse to speak that is the cost of the protest to you. Don’t blame the teacher. Chalk it up to the cost of protest for ideas that you believe in. Please also remember that selective protest – in the classroom but not in the hall – is not in the spirit of the day.”
Snider said an estimated 3,000-4,000 Sacramento area students remained out of class to protest the GLSEN event. Others attended and many “did some sort of speech activities on the Day of Silence or the days following.”
He said the activities generally involved a protest on a sidewalk near a school, wearing a T-shirt that expressed the student’s religious views on homosexuality, or some sort of literature distribution.
Snider told WND there was no overall resolution apparent, because there were a number of school districts involved, with a variety of actions and outcomes.
“A lot of students were suspended,” he said. “Others were just kicked out [of school] and told to go home for the day. I’m not certain that is legal. You can’t just kick students out.”
He said that might have been done by the schools to avoid legal liability. “When there’s punishment, the schools face liability,” he said.
But he told WND some students’ parents came with them to school the next day, and said, “My understanding is that my student was suspended.”
“In some cases, the secretary said, ‘We have no record of that,'” he said.
Other schools had been suspending students who objected to the pro-homosexual advocacy, but then abruptly halted in the middle of the day. Another school “rounded up” several students days later and held them for three hours.
“The parents are quite upset at this,” he said.
“There’s at least one school district that looks like they are digging in and not going to remove, expunge, suspensions,” Snider said. “So that may well be a legal confrontation.”
He said when similar issues arose a year earlier, Pacific Justice spent hours negotiating with schools to have suspensions removed. “Those good faith efforts have come to naught,” he said.
“So the question for parents and students becomes, ‘What do you do about it?'” he said.
He said even the case of one student cited by police for “trespassing” after a complaint from school officials remains undetermined. If the student was improperly removed from the school for protected 1st Amendment activities, is a subsequent arrest for those activities valid, he questioned.
GLSEN advertises its event as a “vow of silence to recognize and protest the silence that LGBT people face each day.”
This year it was held April 18.
On the following day, students in schools around the nation participated in the “Day of Truth,” organized by the Alliance Defense Fund to counter the GLSEN event.
“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 said on its website.
“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 ADF said.
Those students wear T-shirts and pass out cards during non-instructional time with messages such as: “Silence isn’t freedom; it’s a constraint.”
Another pro-family organization, Not Our Kids recommended that students stay home on that day.
“Many school district superintendents, principals, and faculty members also endorse, promote or allow DOS – subjecting traditional students to pro-‘gay’ activism that violates their religious beliefs and right to a non-politicized education,” the group said.
“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 of Mission America, a coalition member.
At Rio Linda High, officials said students were not suspended for wearing Christian message on their shirts, but were suspended for not removing the shirts.
And a local newspaper reader wondered: “Hmmm the students were not suspended for wearing anti-gay T shirts, but were disciplined for not removing them? Sounds like typical double speak to me. Were the other students suspended for not speaking?”