Quote of the day
"We are shut up in schools and college recitation rooms for ten or fifteen years, and come out at last with a bellyful of words and do not know a thing. "
-Ralph Waldo Emerson
-Ralph Waldo Emerson
Friday, April 25, 2008
SNOQUALMIE, Wash., April 25, 2008 -- A press conference will be held at the Snoqualmie Library (7824 Center Blvd SE, Snoqualmie, WA) on Friday, April 25, at 11 a.m. to address misconceptions being perpetuated regarding the annual Day of Silence, which seeks to bring attention to anti-lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) name-calling, bullying and harassment in schools.
Community members, some of whom plan to show solidarity with participating students outside the school before school starts, will join a panel of local Snoqualmie Valley residents, including clergy, parents, and current and former high school students, and representatives from the Washington State chapter of the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN).
The panelists include:
Stephen Hadden is the pastor of Tolt United Church of Christ. His church purchased a full-page advertisement in this week's Snoqualmie Valley Record in support of the Day of Silence and the Mt. Si High School Gay-Straight Alliance. Nearly half of high-school-age youth at his church go to Mt Si High School.
Jane Storrs is a nurse and mother of three teenage children. Her daughter attends Mt. Si High School. She will talk about how the Day of Silence will be a benefit to the students of Mt. Si High School. Neil Lequia, a former Mt. Si High School student who experienced anti-LGBT name-calling, bullying and harassment at the hands of his peers, will share his experiences and discuss why the Day of Silence is important.
GLSEN, the leading national education organization focused on ensuring safe schools for all students, is the official organizational sponsor for the event. A record 7,000 schools nationwide and 223 in Washington are expected to participate.
"The Day of Silence helps bring us closer to making anti-LGBT bullying, harassment and name-calling unacceptable in America's schools," said Robert Raketty, executive director of GLSEN Washington State. "The sad truth remains that anti-LGBT bullying, harassment and name-calling continues to be the rule - not the exception - in Washington State schools."
This year's event will be held in memory of Lawrence King, a 15-year-old from Oxnard, Calif., who was shot and killed in school on Feb. 12 because of his sexual orientation and gender expression.
"For the majority of students, the Day of Silence is a chance to see things from another's perspective and develop tolerance and empathy,"Storrs explains. "For youth struggling to fit in, the Day of Silence offers a chance to be acknowledged by their peers. For everyone, the Day of Silence opens doors to reflection about bullying, tolerance, and compassion.
"As a nurse I've seen kids with an alternate sexual orientation or gender identity suffer isolation, depression, and suicide. Spending a day in silence allows students a safe place to consider a different perspective and the challenges faced by a minority group. In a world often lacking compassion this might be a rare opportunity for our high school students to develop important character traits. It also gives them practice honoring diversity."
Four out of five LGBT students are harassed every year because of their sexual orientation, according to GLSEN's 2005 National School Climate Survey. Additionally, 64% of students said they feel unsafe at school because of their sexual orientation and 40% because of their gender expression.
About GLSEN Washington State
GLSEN Washington State is a chapter of the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, the nation's leading education organization focused on ensuring safe schools for all students. GLSEN envisions a world in which every child learns to respect and accept all people, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression. For more information, call 206-330-2099 or visit www.glsenwa.org.