The April 25 national Day Of Silence unites students in a silent vigil against violence in schools, and in commemoration of the lives of Lawrence King and thousands of other youths who have been killed or assaulted because of their sexual orientation or gender expression.

The April 28 Day of Truth is something entirely different:

It is a pernicious effort by Exodus, the antigay Alliance Defense Fund, Focus on the Family, ex-gay activist Scott Lively, ex-gay activist Stephen Bennett, Mission: America, and other pro-bigotry organizations to divert public attention from school violence in order to discuss their fixation with homosexual sex on public-school property during school hours.

In today’s edition of CitizenLink, Exodus antigay youth activist Mike Ensley says the Day of Truth is about opening dialogue:

“I would encourage Christian students to brainstorm what they want to do, how they want to respond,” he said. “It’ not about being adversarial to the gay-identified students or organizations on campus. It’ about helping people understand what their attitude really is towards their fellow students.”

Students are asked to pass out cards after class and wear T-shirts that encourage honest conversation about homosexuality.

But the DOT’s own web site speaks a different language — not of conversation, but of self-righteous evangelism. DOT participants pass out cards that declare:

I’m speaking the Truth to break the silence.
True tolerance means that people with differing — even opposing — viewpoints can freely exchange ideas and respectfully listen to each other.
It’s time for an honest conversation about homosexuality.
There’s freedom to change if you want to.
Let’ talk.

Exodus and the other DOT co-sponsors commit something approaching blasphemy when they claim to speak for God and to own Truth that belongs to God alone.

The sponsors furthermore have refused to engage the Day of Silence participants constructively in concern over antigay violence. In their battle to shut down the Day of Silence, the DOT sponsors refuse to listen to opposing sides. And they decline to honestly and publicly define what they really mean by “freedom” and “change.” In fact, the DOT sponsors have refused to talk about almost everything that is worth talking about.

In the lead-up to the DOT, its sponsors have refused to discuss:

  • the severity and scope of antigay violence in U.S. schools;
  • the truth that ex-gay “therapies” cure no one, injure many, and divide families;
  • the truth that science leans heavily toward biological roots for sexual orientation; and
  • respect for gay students’ rights to freedom of speech, religion, and safety from violence.

Through their Day Of Silence boycott threats and their protest materials, the DOT sponsors have already rejected “honest conversation.” For them, to “exchange ideas” means to declare that they alone speak for God, that they alone dictate who is entitled to safety in schools, and that antigay religious orthodoxy trumps science in schools.

Instead of accepting antiviolence advocates’ pre-existing invitation to constructive dialogue, the DOT fanatics seek to change the subject. In their minds, there is only one thing to talk about: homosexual behavior — or rather, their myths about said behavior. Their presumption: Basic American freedoms are predicated upon one’s conformity to heterosexist stereotypes.

It’s sad that religious-right activist organizations have eroded what it means for Americans to converse and engage in dialogue. For them, words like “conversation” and “dialogue” are just rhetorical ploys in a cultural war against fellow Americans.