The Day of Purity, a project of the Liberty Counsel, will take place this year on Valentine's Day. Supported by Christian churches and pro-abstinence groups, the Day of Purity celebrates "sexual purity" among young people. Christian purity culture is problematic, but there is another undercurrent here I'd like to discuss.
While the Day of Purity website uses the usual strategies to encourage abstinence before marriage, such as warnings about STDs and teen pregnancy, it goes beyond a pro-abstinence message. Several elements of the website suggest that this is not just a pro-abstinence campaign, but an anti-LGBT campaign as well. For instance, the website accuses modern culture of encouraging young people to become sexually active at young ages and to "experiment with sexual preferences." The Day of Purity symbol -- intertwined male and female glyphs -- and website's admonishment to youth to be "politically incorrect" strengthened my suspicion that an anti-LGBT undercurrent was present.
The Day of Purity website claims that there is a "concerted effort" in the media and schools to lure young people away from "traditional values." In the "About" section, the site casts "experimentation" with partners of the same sex in an extremely negative light. The alleged push to "experiment" with members of the same sex has led to the "bisexual chic" fad, it insists, in which girls declare themselves bisexual to be "cool." This is breathtakingly condescending not only to bisexuals, but to all LGBT youth whose sexual orientation has been trivialized as "experimentation." The "About" section disapprovingly shared quotes from two pro-LGBT organizations, GLSEN and PFLAG.
What the website fails to address is why so many LGBT youth are experiencing bullying and discrimination if so-called "sexual experimentation" is all the rage. If attraction to members of the same sex were seen as "cool," why does widespread homophobia create so much misery for LGBT youth? According to GLSEN's 2009 National School Climate Survey, 61.1% of respondents felt unsafe at school, 84.6% have been verbally harassed at school, 40.1% were physically harassed at school, and 18.8% were physically assaulted at school because of their sexual orientation. A third of students who reported such incidents indicated that the school staff did nothing in response. In another study of 7,376 students, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and questioning youth were more likely to report high levels of bulling and homophobic victimization than heterosexual youth. The reality for today's youth bears little resemblance to the sexually freewheeling caricature promoted by the Day of Purity website.
If the Day of Purity wants to discourage sexual activity among teens, that's their right, but to do so through homophobic means is uncalled for. There are plenty of ways to help young people prevent STDs, pregnancy, and early sexual activity without mocking LGBT youth.
To learn more about the Day of Purity, click here. The project also has a UK website here.
To read additional commentary, visit the following links.
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