The Snoqualmie Valley School District Board says there is no reason for it to become involved with the student-organized Day of Silence at Mount Si High School.
So long as students are not disrupting the learning process during the Day of Silence, which is planned for Friday, April 17, the school district is obligated to protect their freedom of expression, board member Craig Husa told attendees at a Thursday, March 26, board meeting.
During the event participants agree to not speak, except when necessary in class, to draw attention to discrimination of gay, lesbian, bisexual and trans-gendered youth.
At a board meeting in mid-March, opponents to the event called for the board to cancel the Day of Silence or combine it with a general Day of Respect.
“It’s not our event to cancel or move,” Husa said in a telephone interview.
The school district’s policy supports students’ right to free speech, so long as it does not disrupt the learning process.
“It’s about 15 percent of the student body being silent. Its hard to say they’re being disruptive,” Husa said.
The day is recognized in schools across the country, and is locally organized by Mount Si’s Gay-Straight Alliance. The alliance first organized the event in 2006.
In 2008, the Day of Silence became the focus of protests — led by the Rev. Ken Hutcherson – and counter-protests.
Hutcherson and his supporters — dubbed “prayer warriors” — claimed the event disrupted the learning process.
The protests and counter-protests caused a spike in student absences. Over a third of Mount Si students were absent last year.