Thousands of high schools around the country participate in the Day of Silence each year, which includes my own high school. However, in my state the bulk of the media’s attention centered on Mt. Si High School because Rev. Ken Hutcherson, pastor of Antioch Bible Church in Redmond, called for 1,000 “prayer warriors” to protest Day of Silence. He reasoned that “We’re against giving an entire school day to one club to push an agenda that is not about education.”
Only 80 protesters showed up. Tolerance wins that battle.
I would counter that he is wrong on two counts: Day of Silence is not about a club (i.e. GSA clubs) pushing a non-education agenda, and Day of Silence is all about education. It centers on tolerance, tells students everyone deserves a voice, opposes harassment, and challenges bullying and name-calling. Are these not aspects of a typical civics class? Also, contrary to common beliefs, it does not promote a lifestyle; it’s about equality and tolerance.
One note of sadness for me is that 1/3 of the students were absent, including 85 athletes (a group often the source of homophobic bullying).
Still, I would say that the Day of Silence is gaining acceptance and more students are seeing that it is a day of tacitly shouting out a resounding “no” to abusive behaviors. Their silence becomes a loud call to all to understand that everyone deserves a voice.
While a few students in my high school wrote homophobic remarks on t-shirts to protest, overall my school was quite supportive. We did not have an unusual number of absences, and no major incidents were reported. I am proud of the participants and those who, even if they disagreed, respected others’ beliefs and supported the participants’ First Amendment rights to speak and be heard. Even if they must be heard in silence.