(RNS) A leading “ex-gay” group, concerned about a recent rash of anti-gay bullying, has ended its role in the annual “Day of Truth” events that encourage students to express their opposition to homosexuality.
The annual school observance was meant to counter the “Day of Silence” sponsored by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), in which students remain silent to protest anti-gay harassment.

Alan Chambers, president of Exodus International, told CNN’s Belief Blog that bullying caused his group to rethink their sponsorship.

“All the recent attention to bullying helped us realize that we need to equip kids to live out biblical tolerance and grace while treating their neighbors as they’d like to be treated, whether they agree with them or not,” Chambers said.

In a Wednesday (Oct. 6) statement on the Exodus website, Chambers said the dueling events were “always perceived in an adversarial manner, and became more about policy than people.”

Exodus International, which counsels people who believe they can change their sexual orientation, most recently spearheaded the annual Day of Truth in April, and had supported the event for four years.

GLSEN welcomed the decision.

“GLSEN thanks Exodus for disassociating itself from a day designed to push a very specific set of opinions and beliefs about homosexuality into schools in a way that is inappropriate and divisive,” said Eliza Byard, the group’s executive director.

The Alliance Defense Fund, which turned leadership of the Day of Truth over to Exodus International last year, said in a statement that Exodus International was free “to make decisions they deem best.”

The conservative legal group added that it is “in discussion” with other groups that have been interested in the event.

“Contrary to comments by GLSEN falsely labeling the Day of Truth as `inappropriate and divisive,’ the event was always about the right of students to peacefully express their point of view on the subject of homosexual behavior,” the ADF said.

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