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Day of Silence opponents tell parents to keep kids home

Opponents to the Day of Silence placed fliers Wednesday on cars around Mount Si High School. The fliers and full-page ads in local newspapers encouraged parents to keep students at home for the Day of Silence, which is scheduled for Friday, April 17.

They claim that it disrupts education and is a protest, which would break school policy. Supporters counter that it is a student-organized event which does not affect education and is not a protest.

During the Day of Silence participants agree to not speak — except when necessary in class — to draw attention to discrimination of gay, lesbian, bisexual and trans-gendered youth. The event is recognized at around 5,000 schools and by over 500,000 students nationwide, according to Mount Si's Gay-Straight Alliance, which organizes the local event.

"While we respect the views of all students and their parents, we are extremely disappointed at this attempt to encourage high rates of absenteeism from our school," said Randy Taylor, Mount Si's principal, in an e-mail to parents.

Last year, 47 percent of students at Mount Si were absent on the Day of Silence.

In a change of policy, student athletes cannot attend practice if they are absent that day, except for a doctor's appointment or court appearance, Taylor told the Valley Record. Last year, the school allowed athletes to attend practice even if they were absent on the Day of Silence. Twenty-two percent of athletes stayed home that day.

Opponents hope that keeping students at home will send a message to the school board.

"The greatest protest is keeping your kids out of school" on Friday, said the Reverend Ken Hutcherson of Antioch Bible Church.

Last year, Hutcherson and several other groups protested the day outside Mount Si, where his son is a freshman. He declined to say whether or not a protest is being planned for Friday, but did say he would not be there. Other groups opposed to the event could not be reached for comment.

The school board is out of step with parents in the Valley, he said.

The board has said it would not get involved with the Day of Silence because it is a student-organized event and does not disrupt the classroom.

“They just let us know we can’t trust them,” Hutcherson said. “We want our kids educated, not indoctrinated.”

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