SIECUS Logo

Support SIECUS!

Make sexuality education available to all.

Stay informed!

Sign up for SIECUS newsletters, updates, action alerts, and more!

Quick Links

PrEP
Local Pastor Protests Day of Silence

Snoqualmie, WA

On April 25th as students at Mount Si High School participated in the National Day of Silence, a national demonstration in which high school students take a vow of silence for the day to call attention to anti-LGBT harassment and violence, a local pastor organized a protest of 100 “prayer warriors” outside the school. 

The National Day of Silence was created by students at the University of Virginia in 1996 and is now sponsored by the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLSEN). Members of Mount Si High School’s Gay-Straight Alliance and their peers have been participating in the Day of Silence since 2006, but faced much more organized opposition this year than in years past.

School officials prepared for the day by sending home letters informing parents that participation in the event was optional and that the goal was to promote tolerance. The principal was also clear that students would be expected to speak when called on in class.1

Some parents weren’t satisfied though and called for the administration to voluntarily cancel the day because they say it allows teachers to promote personal agendas in the classroom. The group was unsuccessful in getting the day canceled, but nearly one-third of students were absent because of their personal beliefs or because they saw the controversy leading up to the event as a good excuse to cut class.2 

In the weeks leading up to the event, local pastor Ken Hutcherson was also stoking the controversy. In interviews and press releases leading up to the Day of Silence, Hutcherson compared the event to a day where teachers encourage drug use and reiterated his belief that homosexuality is a sin and that “God hates it.”3 The pastor has been at the center of a larger dispute that has been swirling around Mount Si High School since he was invited to speak to the student body to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day. During his speech about racial intolerance he was called-out by two teachers for his vehemently anti-gay views. Since the speech, Hutcherson has railed against faculty members, a librarian, and the GSA, calling it a “sex club.”4

On the Day of Silence the pastor’s protests were met with counter-demonstrations of support for the school’s Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) and students participating in the Day of Silence. This counter protest seemed to be lead by former students and other community members. One former student and gay rights advocate reflected on his time at Mount Si and the bullying and harassment he endured. “Even being in the closet was hard there,” he said.5

Parents and other GSA supporters also showed up before school and stood quietly outside, many with rainbow flags or clothing, to express their support for the students as they arrived.

Inside the school, students and administrators also reported intense discussions and lots of messages written on t-shirts. The student president of the GSA said she saw some students wearing t-shirts with bible quotes, while she wore a shirt that said “Listen.”6

Despite the protests and absences, the principal pointed out the silver lining, saying that he thought students learned to “express themselves and respect others' point-of-view” during the day-long experience.7 The president of the GSA agreed that “there’s diversity at this school and there’s now a recognition of that.”8

References
  1. Robert Jamieson, “Day of silence might be good for pastor,” Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 25 April 2008, accessed 28 April 2008, <http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/jamieson/360767_robert26.html>.  
  2. Lynn Thompson, “Almost one-third of students absent as supporters, opponents of Day of Silence air their views at Mt. Si High School,” Seattle Times, 25 April 2008, accessed 28 April 2008, <http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2004373481_websilence25e.html>. 
  3. Jamieson.; Lynn Thompson, “Ex-student returns to Mount Si to support controversial gay-rights Day of Silence,” Seattle Times, 25 April 2008, accessed 28 April 2008, <http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2004372675_lequia25e.html>.  
  4. "Mount Si High School librarian challenges e-mail on school club,” Snoqualmie Valley Record, 12 March 2008, accessed 15 March 2008, <www.zwire.com/site/news.cfm?newsid=19386160&BRD=965&PAG=461&dept_id=141396&rfi=6>.
  5. Thompson, “Ex-student returns to Mount Si...”
  6. Thompson, “Almost one-third of students absent...”  
  7. Ibid.
  8. Ibid.

Email a Friend Print this Page Give us your feedback
National Coalition to Support Sexuality Education National Coalition to Support Sexuality Education