A Christian group that claims to “promote the biblical ethic of decency” has told parents to take their children out of education for the day if their school plans to observe the International Day Against Homophobia.

On Friday, April 25th several thousand schools across the United States will be observing the “Day of Silence” (DOS).

The American Family Association claimed that “DOS is a nationwide push to promote the homosexual lifestyle in public schools.”

The AFA is better known for its boycotts of companies that recognise and support gay staff or “promote” positive images of gay people in their advertising.

Recent targets included IKEA, Ford and WalMart.

Now the AFA has attacked the Day of Silence as “leading the students to believe that every person who identifies as a homosexual, bisexual or cross-dresser is a victim of ongoing, unrelenting harassment and hate.

“Students are taught that homosexuality is a worthy lifestyle, homosexuality has few or no risks, and individuals are born

homosexual and cannot change.

“Those who oppose such teaching are characterised as ignorant and hateful bigots.”

DOS is sponsored by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network

(GLSEN).

GLSEN has become one of the main groups seeking to protect students in schools from homophobia and to publicise nationally and internationally homophobic incidents in American schools.

It is responsible for organising the Day of Silence, which this year takes on special significance because of the murder of Lawrence King on 12th February 2008.

Lawrence, who was fifteen at the time of his death, was shot in the head by another student, allegedly because of his sexual orientation and because he sometimes wore feminine clothing.

In response to the shooting, Judy Shepard, executive director of the Matthew Shepard Foundation, who herself lost a son to a homophobic attack, said:

“I am deeply saddened by the terrible news about the shooting of Lawrence King. My prayers go out to all of Lawrence’s friends and family.

“This terrible incident underscores the fact that we cannot let hate go unchecked in our schools and communities. Our young people need our direction and guidance to prevent this type of crime from happening.

“I urge all parents and teachers to educate their children and students about acceptance, understanding and compassion.”