The Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network expressed outrage Wednesday over President George W. Bush's presidential proclamation in support of a privately organized National Day of Prayer, scheduled for Thursday, May 6. The official Web site for the event, GLSEN said, urges Americans to pray for the "traditional family" and attacks programs that ensure safe and effective schools for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered students, which are described as "homosexual propaganda to kindergartners."
"This [prayer] program specifically asks Americans to pray for intolerance," said GLSEN executive director Kevin Jennings. "It is an affront to all Americans that our president has taken time to celebrate a program and organization that seeks to eliminate millions of Americans from the very fabric of our national family. The message to our youth, including millions of LGBT students and children of LGBT parents, is that they do not deserve the rights, privileges, and respect that come with citizenship."
The National Day of Prayer program goes on to ask Americans to affirm the "traditional family [as] the most immediate of the five centers of power," GLSEN noted. The use of the phrase "traditional family," they said, is meant to specifically exclude LGBT-led or LGBT-inclusive families, an argument GLSEN supported by pointing out that the chairwoman of the National Day of Prayer, Shirley Dobson, serves on the national board of the richly funded antigay activist group Focus on the Family and is the wife of Focus on the Family executive director James Dobson.
The president did not respond to an invitation earlier this year to proclaim support for GLSEN's Day of Silence on April 21, a day on which more than 300,000 students at 3,000 K-12 schools and colleges observed vows of silence in order to bring attention to the violence, bias, and harassment leveled against LGBT students.
"We had hoped that the president's failure to respond to our invitation was merely an oversight, but clearly this endorsement of the National Day of Prayer signals a bigger agenda at work," said Jennings. The Democratic National Committee and presidential hopeful John Kerry both issued statements in support of the Day of Silence.