Opponents to Day of Silence still unhappy

March 19, 2009

By Staff

Roughly a month before the 2009 Day of Silence, Snoqualmie Valley residents Pam and the Rev. Ken Hutcherson are asking whether or not Mount Si High School will again allow the day-long event.

Mount Si’s answer? Yes.

At a March 12 Snoqualmie Valley School Board meeting, the Hutchersons and another parent asked about the validity of holding the Day of Silence during school hours.

“We never said we did not want the Day of Silence. Never.” Ken Hutcherson said. “We said you can make it before school or after school, because the school day should be for learning.”


The Rev. Ken Hutcherson at last year's protest of the Day of Silence at Mount Si High School.

The Rev. Ken Hutcherson at last year's protest of the Day of Silence at Mount Si High School.


Mount Si Assistant Principal and Activities Director Beth Castle and two students from the Gay Straight Alliance explained the decision. Castle said the GSA had recently invited her, Principal Randy Taylor and Assistant Principal Cindy Wilson to one of their meetings previewing the April 17 Day of Silence. 

“The day at school at Mount Si last year was what we thought was very successful,” Castle said. “I know that you’ve probably been aware that there was a high absentee rate. We talked about that and hope that is not the case (this year).”

Castle said other circumstances, such as the outside protests, could have contributed to the high absenteeism. 

The Mount Si GSA began participating in the Day of Silence, an event started in 1996 at the University of Virginia that has spread across the nation. Students participating choose to remain silent to promote tolerance and draw attention to harassment gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people face.

So as not to disrupt the education process, students participating in the Day of Silence are required to talk if a teachers calls on them in class. 

Last year, about 200 students participated, but more were absent. About 9 percent of students miss school on any given day, which equals the percentage of students who missed school on the 2007 Day of Silence. On the 2008 Day of Silence — when Hutcherson held a protest — about 34 percent of the 1,410 student body missed a full day of school.

Castle said she hoped the absentee rate would not be as drastic this year.

“(The GSA) mentioned their foremost goal that day is not to cause a disruption in the educational environment of the classroom, but to simply bring awareness of bullying and harassment,” Castle said.

School board director Rudy Edwards asked if the Day of Silence could be combined with Mount Si’s Day of Respect. Castle said that while both days promote tolerance, different groups organize them.

“The Day of Silence, again, is a student-club activity,” Castle said. “It is not school-sponsored.”

“The community is not getting that,” Edwards said.

“I think the club is hoping the community will understand and get that,” Castle said. “They have the right to do that activity on that day.”

School board director Craig Husa clarified the students’ rights to free speech during school hours.

“Everyone has different opinions and very strongly held beliefs on many sides of many different conflicts,” Husa said. “To keep that right of free speech which is here and keep it from disrupting the learning process is a challenge for the school district. All we can do it try to preserve the right of free speech and try to maintain the learning process.”

Hutcherson reiterated that, free speech or not, he did not want the Day of Silence to be held during school hours.

“When we work together parents, we get the bond passed,” Ken Hutcherson said. “But if you bring the Day of Silence in here…you may never get another bond passed because this is so disruptive in this community.”


Reach reporter Laura Geggel at 392-6434 .221 or lgeggel@snovalleystar.com.

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19 Responses to “Opponents to Day of Silence still unhappy”

  1. John K. on March 19th, 2009 9:59 pm

    “Hutcherson reiterated that, free speech or not, he did not want the Day of Silence to be held during school hours.”

    This is exactly what is always wrong with these religious bigots. They think they are right, and everything and everyone else be damned, even constitutional rights. “Constitution? Pffff, I’m Ken Hutcherson.”

    I don’t even know why the media bothers to interview this clown anymore. Just ignore him.

  2. Lurleen on March 20th, 2009 3:00 pm

    Hutcherson actually trashed Gandhi at the anti-gay rally in Olympia Thursday. He was upset that Christians were concerned about “loving the sinner but hating the sin”, a phrase he attributed to Ghandi. According to Hutcherson, gays are the enemy, so why would you bother to love them? And what’s worse, why follow Gandhi when you should be following Jesus Christ (who, if I am not mistaken, asked us to love our enemies.)? The man is nuts, if you ask me. I agree with John K – why does anyone take him seriously?

  3. David on March 21st, 2009 8:08 pm

    D.O.S. is lame. Take your propaganda somewhere else.

    Hutch is right – and I know this is a shocker but – school is for learning.

    Go Hutch!

  4. Anonymous on March 23rd, 2009 8:47 pm

    I find it very interesting that in today’s society that it is ok to label someone a bigot or “clown” or “nuts” if they don’t agree with you. If Christians did that, people would be up in arms. You want to talk about hypocrites! When have you ever heard Hutch refer to anyone in such a way. Just because someone wants to stand up for something doesn’t give you the right to call them names. John K. and Lurleen, you really showed your true colors.

  5. Merrily Gere on March 23rd, 2009 8:54 pm

    I noticed that the DOS issue wasn’t advertized until the bond issue was voted on. I am be wrong and did not hear about it, but I wouldn’t have voted for it this time and many of the people I know wouldn’t have either had we have known that you are not listening to the voice that is saying we want this done differently. May I remind you that you may want to pass a larger bond, when and if the money issues of our country get better. This one was nicely pared down, but does not make happen all that you would have liked to see happen. Do you think that the voters will not remember that you have simply ignored the quiet voice of reason. What would be wrong with having DOS before or after school or on the one day of respect for all who feel the need to be accepted. Why is their need any greater than kids with special needs, kids who come to school who don’t speak english, kids of different race, chubby kids, kids who feel unattractive, or heaven forbid kids with religeous affiliations. Go figure. And I personally don’t ever want to see bad publicity about Hutch again, that whole assembly issue was in such bad taste I can’t even believe these people are teachers.
    (Please check my spelling)

  6. Merrily Gere on March 23rd, 2009 9:08 pm

    I didn’t know that the other comments were on this page so I just read them. I told one of my young friends that the DOS was going to happen this year, after I had read the Star. She said “well my kids won’t be going”, she doesn’t know Hutch, has never met him, so she doesn’t know if he will be there or not. Don’t kid yourselfs that the kids staying home has anything to do with his protest last year. Maybe you could just give the kids a day off that don’t want to be there for this one day. It certainly isn’t causing respect between kids.

    Let me say one more thing. If Hutch believes differently about an issue than you do, does that make him hate you. That is the bent that I hear comming from the
    DOS adults supporters. You have bought a lie if you believe that, most christians and I am sure Hutch himself would comment like this as would I. If I were asked by a DOS person (or anyone else) to you hate the sin and love the sinner, I would have to reply, “I have enough to worry about judging myself I don’t think that I will be judging you.” This may not mean I agree with you but I don’t hate you nor do I judge you. I do hate what the day of silence is doing to the school thoug.

  7. Anonymous on March 23rd, 2009 9:21 pm

    It is my understanding that the ASB has requested that the Day of Silence be moved to the Day of Respect. They are being ignored by the administration and effectively being told that the GSA will not compromise in any way. Why even elect student representation if they have no power? It is my opinion that the GSA truly is the seat of power at our high school. Ask any student that attends Mount Si which club must give approval before an activity can move forward at Mount Si. The answer is the GSA.

    The two GSA representatives at the school board meeting, said that they cannot change any part of the Day of Silence “because they must follow the way the “adults” at national GLSTEN headquarters designed the day to run.” if it is truly a club-run day, why can there be no compromise to meet the needs of everyone in our community?

    I was the Olympia rally, Pastor Hutcherson was speaking to other Christians who were incorrectly stating that “love the sinner not the sin” came from the Bible, he simply pointed out that it should, in fact, be credited to Ghandi.” How this “trashes” Ghandi, I cannot figure out. Hutcherson never said gays were the enemy. And, yes, Christians should follow Jesus,

  8. kate on March 24th, 2009 6:38 pm

    Why force the day of silence on those who disagree? A national movement is not a reason to keep it at Mount Si. How many parents will it take to complain until it is discontinued? Answer: infinity. We parents don’t know how to raise our kids or teach them our values. That’s a math teacher’s job. Or an English Lit teacher’s job. Parents are here just to pay taxes and keep out of our school.

    John K: Disagreement is not bigotry or hatred. I never heard as much hatred as I did at last year’s school board meeting . Hutch sat through 3 hours of vitriol from the “people of tolerance.” If anyone dares EVER disagreewith “the tolerant” expect not rational argument, but a profuse quantity of name calling usually in terms of bigot, Nazi or some kind of phobe. How loving. And rational. And reasonable.

  9. Anonymous on March 27th, 2009 7:53 pm

    Last year’s DOS was such a great success? Isn’t it the reason why over a quarter of the students chose to skip school that day?

    Educators that think last years DOS was a success, need to go back to school themselves, or find another line of work. Preferably one that isn’t funded by my tax dollars.

  10. Ray on March 31st, 2009 10:44 am

    ““When we work together parents, we get the bond passed,” Ken Hutcherson said. “But if you bring the Day of Silence in here…you may never get another bond passed because this is so disruptive in this community.””

    Uhhh… how is being silent “disruptive”? Seems like Hutch and the religious people are being more disruptive.

    The “Day of Silence” is held at school as a protest against verbal abuse that happens IN SCHOOL. It’s not forced on anyone else: those who wish to be silent are silent and everyone else is free to go about their business.

    Protesting against the protest is the same as approving what is being protested, i.e., verbal abuse of gay and lesbian students. So basically it appears that Hutch not only approves that sort of verbal abuse, but thinks it is wrong for the abused to do anything but take the abuse. Otherwise, he would see no problem with those who are abused (and their supporters) taking action in their own behalf.

    Hutch and his kind are the bigots and bullies, so they have no ground to say the abused shouldn’t participate in the protest against them.

  11. Anonymous on April 1st, 2009 4:58 pm

    If anyone opposed to Rev Ken Hutcherson truly believes a “Day of Silence” is a good way to promote tolerance and draw attention to harassment gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people suffer from, then I challenge you to start a movement for a “Day of Silence” promoting tolerance and drawing attention to harassment fat, short, ugly, stupid, handicapped, poor, and all-other-variations-of-people-that-have-ever-been-harassed have to deal with. There ought to be enough groups of people that are harassed to make it a monthly event. Talk is cheap. Action speaks volumes. Rev Ken Hutcherson has his opinions and he is acting on them. You don’t have to agree with his opinions. He is entitled to his opinions just as you are are entilted to yours. The difference is, he is acting on his. If all you are going to do is talk about how you don’t like his actions, then I challenge you to act. Act on your position of tolerance by starting movements on behalf of others who are harrassed, and stop talking about what you don’t like that Rev Ken Hutcherson is doing. Tolerance doesn’t just apply to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people. It applies to everyone. I respect Rev Ken Hutcherson for acting on his beliefs. It is an interesting commentary on our society that so many open minded people of tolerance are narrowing their application of tolerance to one people group, not only in talk, but in action.

  12. J.F on April 2nd, 2009 11:33 am

    You just said:

    “I respect Rev Ken Hutcherson for acting on his beliefs.”

    That must mean you then respect the 200+ kids who organized a Day of Silence last year (and this year) in order to stand up for what they believe in.

    I am so over people saying that this is about the day being a “disruption.” Own your beliefs. If you don’t like the DOS because you don’t like homosexuality, say it. But don’t thinly disguise your views by saying the actual event is a disruption. It is not.

    The disruption came from Hutcherson’s protesters outside and the students who saw the day as an opportunity to skip school.

    You also just said that:

    “open minded people of tolerance are narrowing their application of tolerance to one people group”

    Why is that innappropriate? That logic would call into question events like Black History Month and Veteran’s Day. What’s wrong with bringing attention to a specific issue or cause or suffering minority?

    The day of silence is designed to do just that. Just as an event to help raise awareness about breast cancer is specific to a certain condition. If the event focused on all cancers, the specific cause would lose its significance and lessen its deliberate message. it doesn’t mean focusing on all cancers is not important…it just means, there are situations that call for focus. The poor treatment, bullying, and harrassment that gay students face is one of them.

    The school does have Days of Respect–or at least did when I went to school there–it’s great and gets students thinking about acceptance. But guess what, it also has Black History month, no name calling week, book drives for Darfur, mix-it-up-day, Veteran’s day, the MLK assembly, clothing drives, toy drives, fundraisers for cancer research, Rachel’s challenge, a spare-change drive for Lymphoma and Leukemia, and a bunch of other events. The argument that a specific cause can’t have a focus is–again–just someone hiding their actual beliefs.

    So, get it out there and be true to yourself. Say you don’t like homosexuality and be done with it. Stand behind what you really believe in and let people really see what this argument is about–then, deal with the consequences of your unfortunate worldvie. But don’t be manipulative.

    Have some tact and pride.

  13. Nic on April 3rd, 2009 3:45 pm

    It’s interesting to me, a senior at Mount Si, why it is so difficult for adults (individuals who are supposed to be respected and wise) to open their minds to the events in today’s society. The world is such a diverse place, one would think that anyone and everyone can fit in somewhere.

    In this day and age science, technology, philosophy, and the very nature of human existence is being questioned. Why is it that humans are so conceited that they have to impose upon others’ beliefs? Now, you’re probably thinking, “you’re about to contradict your statement by saying that the GSA has every right to pose their beliefs while in a public place”…okay, maybe not exactly what you were thinking; but I’m not. While at Mount Si (yes, that’s right, I have FIRST HAND experience), anytime you walk down the hallways you can almost always hear some remark on the lines of “that’s so gay” or some such comment. You hear people making fun of those who are gay and of those who believe in gay rights. That to me sounds like they are posing their ideas in a public manner, why can’t the GSA.

    The truth is, every human being has the right to believe what they want without fear of being ridiculed for it. Students should feel safe walking down the hallways no matter what their sexual orientation is. Students should feel safe being who they are. At Mount Si, that is not always the case. The GSA does not draw a line through the school; it recognizes that there are many distinct and widely varying beliefs within the school walls and hopes that each will be open to the notion that a person, no matter if you’re short, tall, thin, fat, straight, or gay, is still a person who is entitled to be treated like one.

    Finally, for those who think that the Day of Silence is a distraction to learning, consider this. The students who are participating are SILENT. An intelligent being would conclude that this means they are not talking during class and therefore not creating a distraction. Consider the idea that the distraction arises when those who disagree confront the participants and make a peaceful event into a community-wide fiasco. If you’re looking to point a finger, point it at yourselves.

  14. Randy Grogan on April 3rd, 2009 11:11 pm

    Wow. There are so many different sides to this, and I am going to add mine.

    I myself am a Gay teenager, that was Verbally harassed on almost a Daily basis, for my sexual orientation. The Stuff that I put up with would make most people go insane. But I Prayed to God, and he helped me through each day, Thats Right, I am a Gay, and I prayed to God. I believe that God Loves us all for the kind of people we are, and what is in our hearts, not for what our sexual belief is.

    Parents and Community Adults:
    Consider this, If you found out that your child was putting up with outraging verbal or physical abuse EVERY DAY, juts because of the way they dressed, or they were large, or the music they listened to, or anything else they did (Even though it Effected NOBODY around them) Would you not want your Child to express themselves, or stand up for themselves, or whatever it took for them to be able to go to School and be happy, enjoy life, and Like going to school?

    Thats all that we are asking for, We aren’t asking for special rules, or these extra privellages, or anything thing else, We are just asking to be able to go to school,where we spend 75% of Our time, or work, or anywhere else public, and Be happy, and not have to be worried about what the next person was going to say.

    If this Day disrupts the learning environment for just one day, which it doesn’t,
    well, then I am Sorry, but EVERY DAY for me is disrupted by these potty mouthed students that didn’t have their butts spanked enough as a child, They are inconsiderate, conceited, trashy kids that aren’t happy with themselves so they find someone else to make fun of. And I am NOT going to just sit back and take this crap anymore, African Americans were able to Fight for what they believed in for Equal rights and Respect, and Now we demand the same.

    As for the Students who are participating in this day: Continue to Fight for what you believe in, Don’t let these narrow minded Old-time thinking Adults make you think you have to put up with this stuff. You have a heart and you have feelings, express them! You’ll feel better about yourself.

    Now I know some of you aren’t against the Day as a whole, your Just against it being allowed on School grounds. Well, Why not take care of it where it occurs? That is where 90% of the Abuse occurs, so Why can’t we protest for Change there? It’s just one day. Classes Still go on, homework is still given, and Tests are still studied for, It doesn’t Disrupt the learning environment. We aren’t forcing our beliefs on ANYONE!.

    The disruptions, come from these Anti-Gay protests being held on school grounds right outside out classrooms.

    If ANYBODY, has any questions or comments on what I’ve said, feel free to e-mail me directly at: grogan67@hotmail.com

  15. PJ on April 7th, 2009 7:13 am

    Randy, I just want to respond to your message. I am so sorry for all the harrassment and ridicule you’ve been subjected to, but I do believe the DOS in itself is showing discrimination. Why don’t they include all people who are discriminated against such as skin color, ethnic background, fat, skinny, not pretty enough, not smart enough, learning and physically disabled, the list could go on for pages. For goodness sake, I was made fun of for my red hair and glasses when I was a child. I grew up knowing that not all people are nice and that I certainly do not want to be like any of them. The fact is the world is not a perfect place. What did Jesus do when he was ridiculed? He turned the other cheek. May we all learn to do that and not feel we have to have our very own special day to make a statement about respect. That’s more the real issue here. You have to have a special day…all your own. And in doing that, you are discriminating. How ironic.

  16. J on April 10th, 2009 12:23 pm

    man i got all sorts of feelings on this. i couldn’t have imagined there being a GSA at mt si when i went there and one of my friends got the -edit- kicked out of him for being a dude and a homo. so i’m pretty stoked that there is actually enough awareness and general societal acceptance of the gay to allow for an org like that. for those of you at school – stay strong, keep your chins up and your heads down, and don’t let them give you any -edit-!

    for those of you getting hurt that hutch’s goony hate messages continue to be responded to with the contempt they deserve: suck it. there’s nothing wrong with being gay, there’s nothing wrong with gay advocacy, and there is all sorts of -edit- wrong with people expressing the notion that entire swathes of humanity are second-class because of the nature of their desire. being “tolerant” does not mean that one should accept abuse or denigration for just being who you are.

    also, procedurally – the day of silence is observed outside of mt si high school, and moving the date so you can include the day of silence in with days of respect seems bizarre on two levels: day of silence is partially about solidarity – it is a thing that gains resonance from knowing you are doing a thing that people around the globe are also doing. second, at least when i was in high school, days of respect involved more discussions than classes generally had.. is this some hamfisted way of punishing people who dare to give a -edit- about homos?


    do you guys get uncomfortable when i come home and visit my parents because it makes snoqualmie marginally gayer

    would you prefer if i was not affectionate with my girlfriend until we left city limits

  17. Johnathan Empirehouse on April 10th, 2009 12:36 pm

    “Why don’t they include all people who are discriminated against such as skin color, ethnic background, fat, skinny, not pretty enough, not smart enough, learning and physically disabled, the list could go on for pages.”

    Gee, it’s almost like they’re trying to advocate for their particular issue, not every problem every person has ever had in the history of the universe. It the GSA’s responsibility to advocate these things how?

    It is like you are coming into a book store to complain that they aren’t selling you bagpipes.

  18. Jon D on April 17th, 2009 9:01 am

    Okay seriously… people are making to much of a big deal about this… Gay Silence Day is student sponsored, and after reading all of your comments i don’t think any of you are getting it. The school is not asking your sons and daughters to participate. And they definitely are not shunning the day either. They are just saying that school is school… Most kids are silent in their classes anyhow. Why should it matter if a few homosexuals and their straight friends are also silent? The absent rate should not be that drastic… ever… This is just a day that raises awareness for gays and look… Its doing that. THrough all of the comments and interviews, it is doing its job. So stop protesting and worrying so much about all of this mess, and focus on getting a promotion at your job or something. Im sure you parents and students have better things to do than worry about awareness of gay people.

  19. Connor Jensen on November 23rd, 2009 6:02 pm

    I agree with the Rev. this should not be in our schools. I attend Mt. Si and believe that this should be held before or after school. A high school is not the place for such things to be going on. We go to high school to learn not to be told to be quite by the GSA. I am very tired of the day of silence and wish it to go away.

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