Open-mindedness isn’t a one-way street

As you may know, April 25 was known as “The Day of Silence” around our high schools. Students would not utter a single word through their lips in honor and respect of those gay or lesbian youths who are unable or do not wish to speak out in fear of their parents, their peers, or other anyone else who would judge them. One of the main points, though, was a show of support for Lawrence King, a California eighth-grader who was shot and killed Feb. 12 by a classmate because he was gay.

On the morning of April 25 at Mount Si High School in Snoqualmie, my pastor, Ken Hutcherson, and a group of my peers gathered outside the high school in protest against the day of silence. It is “disturbing and disruptive to our students,” as one student from Lynnwood put it.

“Today is held in memory of Lawrence King, a 15-year-old California student who was shot and killed at school in February by a 14-year-old classmate because of King’s sexual orientation and gender expression.” This was the claim on several students’ tags as they walked the halls of many high schools all around our country. After doing some research, I found that this year is in fact the 12th annual day of silence. Every year it is pressed on high school students to participate in the “The Day of Silence.” Students stood at the doorways and entrances of Meadowdale High School and handed out pink triangles of paper with tape stating that students wearing them would not be speaking in tribute and honor of “The Day of Silence.”

Throughout the day I was shocked at the reaction I got when I passed through a door or entrance. Every time I had a pink tag handed out to me I would politely respond, “No thanks, I do not support homosexuality.” I was then answered with glares and scowls from the students around me.

Throughout the day, my friends and I who share the same opinion were repeatedly approached in the halls and on school grounds about the matter. We were asked questions like “What’s wrong with having an open mind?” and “Do you find something wrong with being different?” I was even accused of being “prejudiced” and “homophobic.” I found this line of actions very disappointing. A 15-year-old girl at Meadowdale exclaimed, “I believe it is wrong to judge anybody, but it is worse to try force opinions on somebody else.”

Another issue brought to our attention April 25, which several of our students found very disturbing, was that some of our teachers were participating in “The Day of Silence.” If a teacher in our schools where to say, “I disapprove of homosexuality,” it would not be allowed and actions would have to be taken because this type of statement would be found offensive to students. Yet on April 25, more than one teacher participated in proudly displaying a pink tag.

A murmur ran through several of the students. One freshman, an advanced placement student, declared strongly her view points on the matter when she got up and left in the middle of her class. When asked why she had taken such action she calmly replied, “I think it is very hypocritical that my teachers can talk about being for evolution and being gay but not about God or being against being gay or lesbian, ‘cause God made marriage for a man and a woman and this is not fair. If they can’t say one, then they shouldn’t be allowed to say the other. I understand that they can’t talk about God because it would be offensive to some students, but I find being gay or supportive of being gay offensive to me. So I left. I seriously want to drop the class now even.”

As the day progressed, the more I saw the use of fear and intimidation to try to force conformity. Anyone who openly said they did not support homosexuality was then repeatedly questioned and drilled on why they thought that, and told that such thinking was not open-minded and therefore was unacceptable.

Open-minded as defined by Webster’s Dictionary is: “Receptive to new and different ideas or the opinions of others.” Isn’t it an opinion not to support homosexuality? Is it not a different idea? Then why are we the ones accused of being prejudiced?

Alyssa Musgrave is a student in the Edmonds School District.

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