March 02 2010 3:45 PM ET
A nationwide school event launched by religious conservatives to counter the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network’s annual Day of Silence will be promoted and overseen for the first time next month by Exodus International, an “ex-gay” organization with extensive ties to so-called conversion or reparative therapy.
Created in 2004 by the conservative legal organization Alliance Defense Fund, the Day of Truth is scheduled for April 15, one day before GLSEN’s Day of Silence event. According to its website, Day of Truth seeks “to affirm every student’s constitutional right to free speech and to provide an opportunity to have an honest conversation about sexuality.” Last year the ADF announced that Exodus would oversee implementation of the event in 2010, though the ADF’s legal team remains involved.
GLSEN representatives see the competing event differently. “We find it unfortunate that the ADF and now Exodus International tries to spin a message counter to ours, that anti-LGBT bullying is wrong,” GLSEN spokesman Daryl Presgraves said. “Students today feel more welcome and accepted, and have a sense of belonging that didn’t exist 20 years ago. Part of the Day of Truth is to take away from that, to spread the mistruths about 'conversion therapy.'”
Presgraves added that “it doesn’t look like [Exodus] is saying that bullying is OK. However, the fact that they have this counterevent a day before the Day of Silence on April 16 is telling.”