NEW YORK, April 1, 2009 Ė In a commentary called "GLSEN and the Hitler Youth
," World Net Daily columnist Judith Reisman today compared Day of Silence participants, GLSEN and students who participate in Gay-Straight Alliance student clubs to Hitler Youth. The column was featured on the wnd.com front page.
"Last week at our Lobby Day in Washington, DC, I saw students aglow with joy after having the opportunity to speak directly with their elected representatives and take part in our democratic processes," said GLSEN Executive Director Eliza Byard. "Today I read a commentary comparing those young people, as well as me and my staff, to Nazis. We can only hope this is some sort of sick April Foolís joke."
Reismanís piece also attacks the National Education Association and the American Library Association, saying they act similarly to Hitler's National Socialist Teachers Association.
But the brunt of Reisman's attack is directed at GLSEN and the hundreds of thousands of students who will participate in the Day of Silence on April 17 to bring attention to anti-lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender name-calling, bullying and harassment. Students from more than 7,500 middle and high schools participated in 2008.
Wrote Reisman: "Under color of a 'Safe Schools Movement' battling alleged 'bullying' of so-called 'gay' children (K-12), some see GLSEN as a modern version of the Hitler Youth and as preparing the ground for a larger, sweeping, schoolroom Youth Brigade."
In reality, nearly 9 out of 10 LGBT youth (86.2%) reported being verbally harassed at school in the past year because of their sexual orientation, nearly half (44.1%) reported being physically harassed and about a quarter (22.1%) reported being physically assaulted, according to GLSEN's 2007 National School Climate Survey of more than 6,000 LGBT students.
Additionally 60.8% of LGBT students said they felt unsafe at school because of their sexual orientation, and nearly a third (32.7%) said they had missed a day of school in the past month because of feeling unsafe.
"Bullying and harassment based on sexual orientation and gender identity/expression is a real and endemic problem in our nation's schools," said Byard, who along with several GLSEN student and teacher representatives met with Education Secretary Arne Duncan last week to discuss the problem. "I admire and respect the young people who are trying to make a positive difference in their schools, and am sad to think that anyone would make them the target of this kind of violent speech. We should not lose sight of the optimism, hope and bravery of these young advocates, and the fact that school is still a very dangerous and isolating place for many LGBT youth."
GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, is the leading national education organization focused on ensuring safe schools for all students. Established nationally in 1995, GLSEN envisions a world in which every child learns to respect and accept all people, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression. GLSEN seeks to develop school climates where difference is valued for the positive contribution it makes to creating a more vibrant and diverse community. For information on GLSENís research, educational resources, public policy advocacy, student organizing programs and educator training initiatives, visit www.glsen.org.