READER'S RESPONSE - The right of silence

Monday, April 28, 2008

Supporting the rights of students to participate in the "Day of Silence", an effective student-led tool designed to highlight the need to stop bullying and harassment of LGBT [lesbian, gay, bisexual trans-gender] students, will be the focus of a Joint Press Conference by the Iowa Pride Network and The Interfaith Alliance of Iowa this week in Des Moines

As Iowa Pride Network Director, I am discussing recent efforts to prohibit Iowa's students' participation in the National Day of Silence which brings attention to anti-LGBT name-calling, bullying and harassment in schools. In light of the recent Iowa School Climate Survey showing widespread homophobia in Iowa's schools and the new inclusive anti-bullying law; The National Day of Silence serves as a great way for hundreds of Iowa students to encourage schools and classmates to address the problem of anti-LGBT behavior. This nationally recognized day it is an important tool for creating safer schools.

Connie Ryan Terrell, Executive Director of The Interfaith Alliance of Iowa is speaking about the recent misuse of religion by one of Iowa's religious right organizations in order to deter schools and students from participating. "The Day of Silence is simply a tool to empower students and to highlight the need for schools and communities to work toward the elimination of bullying and harassment of LGBT students. Using religion as a divisive and fear-based tool is simply wrong," stated Connie Ryan Terrell, Executive Director of The Interfaith Alliance of Iowa.

The goal of the Day of Silence is to make schools safer for all students, regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity/expression.