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Hutcherson disrupts silence at Mount Si High School
Hutcherson disrupts silence at Mount Si High School
GLSEN provides counterpoint to Hutcherson's misinformation

by Robert Raketty - Special to the SGN

Inside Mount Si High School in Snoqualmie on Friday, April 25, over 200 students went about their school day in silence. The students were participating in 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. Outside, however, the scene was far less tranquil.

Rev. Ken Hutcherson, an outspoken opponent of LGBT equality, pledged to amass 1,000 "prayer warriors" in opposition to the Day of Silence. The pastor of Antioch Bible Church in Redmond had been on conservative and Christian radio stations and financed a half-page ad in the Snoqualmie Valley Record calling on those opposed to the event to surround the school in protest. Published reports estimate the final count to be about 100.

Earlier this year, Hutcherson gave the Martin Luther King Jr. Day speech at Mount Si. Hutcherson, who has a daughter at the school, complained how he had been treated by two members of the school staff. One teacher booed as others clapped during his appearance, while another questioned his support for equal rights in light of his anti-LGBT views. Hutcherson and his supporters seized on the opportunity to talk to school board members and school administrators and to push for the cancellation of the Day of Silence at the school.

"Rev. Hutcherson has claimed that the Day of Silence is disruptive to the school learning environment. I think Hutcherson's protest was far more disruptive," said David Hildebrand, the public relations director of the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN) Washington State. "The Day of Silence helps bring us closer to making anti-LGBT bullying, harassment and name-calling unacceptable in America's schools. Kids can't learn and teachers can't teach when they feel unsafe."

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. Hutcherson wore a shirt on Friday that read: "GLSEN's Manipulation Day."

This year's Day of Silence was held in memory of Lawrence King, a 15-year-old from Oxnard, Calif., who was shot and killed in school on February 12 because of his sexual orientation and gender expression.

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 percent of students said they feel unsafe at school because of their sexual orientation and 40 percent because of their gender expression.

A crowd of about 80 people gathered outside the school before the school day began in a display of solidarity. They waved rainbow flags and held signs of encouragement for the students participating in the Day of Silence. The group purposefully dissipated long before Hutcherson's protestors arrived.

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