Equipping U: Teaching Students to Speak Truth in Love

An overhead view of students talking with each other.
Lumina /Stocksy

When the U.S. Supreme Court issued its sweeping redefinition of marriage last year, many on the Left behaved as if the issue was permanently settled. Victory was theirs, and debate was no longer allowed. Others idealistically assumed it wasn't going to affect their families personally.

But recent events in the education system have made it clear neither perspective was correct: Rather than settling anything, the Court's decision increased sexual activism all the more—and these topics are hitting close to home for thousands of families with kids in schools.

Just ask the parents in Pennsylvania's West Allegheny School District, who expressed dismay in January over an "anti-bullying" lesson that directed their middle-schoolers to "move to the middle of the circle" if statements like "you or someone close to you identifies as gay" applied to them.

So how can Christian parents equip their teens to navigate these complicated subjects—at school and in the culture— in a way that demonstrates the love of Christ?

That's where Day of Dialogue comes in.

What Students Can Do:

A nationwide initiative for teens in public high schools and colleges, Day of Dialogue is an annual event sponsored by Focus on the Family. On April 14, thousands of students will use their First Amendment rights to distribute Conversation Cards, put up posters and engage in other activities that communicate a grace-filled, biblical perspective on the issues of marriage and sexuality identity. In short, the event emphasizes dialogue and open conversation, rather than the silencing of unpopular viewpoints.

The reality is, students can feel discouraged when controversial sexual topics are brought up at school in a way that feels one-sided and doesn't allow room for discussion. Many students witness their most deeply held Christian beliefs being mischaracterized or even openly ridiculed. And too often, they are completely unaware they have a constitutional right to defend their perspective.

Day of Dialogue fills in that gap by reminding students of the good news—that when darkness increases, it creates an opportunity for the light of God's love to shine even brighter. And it empowers students with the knowledge that, despite controversial legal decisions, students still live in a nation that protects free speech and religious freedom.

"The sad fact is too many Christian students are intimidated into silence," explains Candi Cushman, Focus on the Family's education analyst and Day of Dialogue facilitator. "That's why it's crucial that families and leaders act now to equip youth to speak the truth with boldness—while at the same time demonstrating care for the person who might disagree with them."

What Parents Can Do:

With that in mind, Day of Dialogue also has created free online tools for parents and pastors, including downloadable Bible studies and "dialogue practicum" activities. The resources give parents and youth leaders a user-friendly way to present the concept of Day of Dialogue, as well as a fun way to engage with students and help them think through their faith in advance and how to articulate their views in a Christ-centered way.

For More Information:

For more details on this year's event or to download free participation guides, visit DayofDialogue.com. You can also join the conversation on Facebook by visiting facebook.com/FocusDayofDialogue

Originally published in the April, 2016 issue of Citizen magazine.

© April 2016 Focus on the Family.