On April 25th thousands of students from across the country at over 50,000 schools will participate in the 12th annual National Day Of Silence sponsored by the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN). The effort encourages schools to adopt policies that foster a safe environment for GLBT youth while at school.

Students participating in the event will remain silent for the day and carry cards in support of GLBT people who have been silenced for expressing their sexuality.

Some community groups and parents are planning counter protests.

In Seattle the event has created a firestorm of controversy. Anti-gay-rights activist Rev. Ken Hutcherson, pastor of Antioch Bible Church in Redmond, has called for 1,000 “prayer warriors” to protest the event. Hutcherson plans to protest the event in front of Mount Si High School. His plans were made public after he ran an ad in the local newspaper inviting residents to join the protest. The ad called for action declaring, “It's time for moral people to be unashamed and take a stand.”

A counter protest by groups supporting students participating in the event has also been announced.

In Phoenix parents are protesting the event by allowing their children to stay home from school. The East Valley Tribune is reporting that one parent, Randy Bellino, has invited children to come over to his house for a pool party instead. Bellino told the paper that his son, Jake, a Desert Ridge sophomore, should be learning about math and science, not gay and lesbian rights.

Nationwide The Alliance Defense Fund, a Christian group, is holding their 4th annual Day Of Truth to protest the event. On April 28th students are encouraged to wear t-shirts and pass out cards that read, “I'm speaking the Truth to break the silence. True tolerance means that people with differing – even opposing – viewpoints can freely exchange ideas and respectfully listen to each other. It's time for an honest conversation about homosexuality. There's freedom to change if you want to. Let's talk.”

The Day of Truth is supported by a coalition of Christian groups, including Exodus International whose members believe homosexuality can be cured through prayer.