Hey folks, it's been a while since I've posted. Seemed like reason had won the day, but alas the crazies will not give up.
Here is the latest attempt by CoDE to end the Day Of Silence...
To: Randy Taylor, Beth Castle, Greg Hart, Cindy Wilson, Joel Aune, Rudy Edwards, Caroline Loudenback, Kathryn Lerner, Marci Busby, Kristy Sullivan
In reviewing Snoqualmie Valley School District policies that relate to the Day of Silence, policy #3223: FREEDOM OF ASSEMBLY struck us forcefully: Individual students and student organizations may meet in school rooms or auditoriums, or at outdoor locations on school grounds, to there discuss, pass resolutions, and take other lawful action respecting any matter which directly or indirectly concerns or affects them, whether or not it relates to school.
Such activities shall not be permitted to interfere with the normal operation of the school. Peaceful demonstrations are permissible, though they are to be held in designated places where they will present no hazards to persons or property and at designated times that will not disrupt classes or other school activities.
The Day of Silence (DOS) is not an “assembly” in any sense of the word – there is no coherent meeting of students for the purpose of being silent or any other reason. The DOS is clearly a “demonstration” and is subject to the restrictions of the second paragraph. Please note that the policy states that all demonstrations must have a designated place and time in order to prevent hazards and disruptions. The policy does not define certain types of demonstrations that are free of these restrictions. The policy does not exempt certain demonstrations that are somehow “deemed” to be non-hazardous or non-disruptive based on expectations or past experience. If there is any question about whether the DOS is a “demonstration,” consider the following:
1) The definition of “demonstration” is “group display of opinion: a public show as a group for or against an issue, cause, or person.” (Encarta World English Dictionary, 2007.)
2) The DOS is a coordinated action in which more than two hundred students make the same statement about the same controversial issue over the same period of time in the same way. A demonstration does not require picket lines, placards, or chanted slogans. Demonstrations can involve holding a candle in the dark, a group standing in one place, or being silent and wearing an armband.
3) The national organizers of the DOS describe it as “an action” and “a movement” whose purpose is “to protest.” Consider the following from www.dayofsilence.org (emphasis added): What is the Day of Silence? Founded in 1996 by students at the University of Virginia, and currently officially sponsored in K-12 schools by GLSEN, the Day of Silence is the largest student-led action to protest the bullying and harassment of LGBT people and their allies ever. (Day of Silence Organizing Manual, page 2, http://www.dayofsilence.org/downloads/Manual%20Draft%20Final.pdf)
Students will hand out "Speaking Cards" which say: - "Please understand my reasons for not speaking today. I am participating in the Day of Silence, a national youth movement protesting the silence faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and their allies…" (About Day of Silence web page, http://www.dayofsilence.org/content/getinformation.html)
We cannot see any interpretation of district policy that would allow the DOS demonstration to occupy the entire school grounds for an entire school day. The Coalition to Defend Education has repeatedly suggested that the DOS should take place as a rally or gathering before or after school, which would allow the students their First Amendment right of free expression while conforming to the spirit and letter of this policy.
If the district continues to allow the DOS demonstration, it must allow any school-day demonstration, such as a Day of Prayer, Global Warming Awareness Day, or Young Republicans for McCain. For the last two years, activities around the DOS have demonstrably violated the school’s “zero tolerance” policy against bullying and have arguably disrupted classes. To be fair and consistent, all future demonstrations must be accorded the same level of tolerance for bullying and disruption around those events. We expect Mount Si High School to conform to all SVSD policies, including #3223: FREEDOM OF ASSEMBLY.
We strongly believe that the Mount Si High School administration must
1) explain how previous Days of Silence were allowed to break district policy and
2) make a prompt and clear statement about the upcoming Day of Silence that upholds all district policies.
We request a prompt decision with respect to the appropriateness of the DOS because the scheduled day for this demonstration is quickly approaching. This would also be a courtesy to the Gay/Straight Alliance club, so that they can redirect their planning efforts to organize their protest so that it fully complies with all SVSD policies. We request a response in writing. Thank you for your consideration.
Coalition to Defend Education
When will these religious zealots figure out that the courts have already decided this issue. The district knows that if they cancel the DoS they will face litigation and will lose.
Keep your religion where it belongs, IN YOUR HOME!
We encourage all of you reasonable individuals to contact the District and the MSHS administration to remind them of their legal obligations.
And you folks at CoDE, if you don't like the laws that protect the civil rights of individuals in our secular democracy, we encourage you to seek a theocracy that is more to your liking!
Coercion will get you nowhere, haven't you figured that out yet?
"Millions of innocent men, women, and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined, and imprisoned; yet we have not advanced one inch toward uniformity. What has been the effect of coercion? To make one-half the world fools and the other half hypocrites. To support roguery and error all over the earth."
~ Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia, 1781-82
CoDE sent an “open letter” warning GSA members that they should cancel their plans to participate in the nationally recognized Day of Silence or else face “more persecution of gay students” (emphasis in original) based on what they claimed would be a building “resentment” that would “spill out in ugly ways,” where “problems experienced will occur again.” Of great alarm, this letter referenced “unstable people [who] sometimes turn their frustration to extreme acts of violence,” including “[s]chool shootings.”
Perhaps they should have their attorneys review the following;
RCW 9A.36.080 Malicious harassment--Definition and criminal penalty.
(1) A person is guilty of malicious harassment if he or she maliciously and intentionally commits one of the following acts because of his or her perception of the victim's race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, or mental, physical, or sensory handicap:
Causes physical injury to the victim or another person;
Causes physical damage to or destruction of the property of the victim or another person; or
Threatens a specific person or group of persons and places that person, or members of the specific group of persons, in reasonable fear of harm to person or property. The fear must be a fear that a reasonable person would have under all the circumstances.For purposes of this section, a "reasonable person" is a reasonable person who is a member of the victim's race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, gender, or sexual orientation, or who has the same mental, physical, or sensory handicap as the victim. Words alone do not constitute malicious harassment unless the context or circumstances surrounding the words indicate the words are a threat.
"The notion that an outside group of adults may make direct appeals to students to refrain from participating in school activities is deeply distressing for these students, many of whom feel targeted and intimidated by this effort. Moreover, the letter makes plain that CoDE misunderstands the nature and purpose of the Day of Silence, and shows why that and similar activities are essential for LGBT students and their supporters at Mount Si. These students selected the Day of Silence activity precisely because it is educational, calm and non-confrontational. It is a low-key way for them to help their fellow students understand that they exist within the school community, though many of them are invisible much of the time. By its very nature, this silent activity avoids confrontation. And, as the CoDE letter acknowledges, only a small percentage of the student body participates. Yet, even with limited participation, this educational exercise encourages the non-participants to recognize errors in their assumptions about others’ identities and/or attitudes about LGBT people.Because members of the GSA now feel targeted and pressured not to engage in the educational activities of their school club, we call on each of you to make clear the school administration’s commitment to allowing students to participate in their club and other free speech activities, free from outside adult warnings of dire consequences or coercion."