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A Day of Silence for Dougherty Valley High

Dougherty Valley High’s Gay Straight Alliance club joined the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network to bring awareness to bullying and harassment of LGBT students.

Students at Dougherty Valley High School held a Day of Silence on Friday to bring awareness to the bullying and harassment of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth.

This event is part of an international movement by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network.

Participating students spent the school day in red shirts with duct tape over their mouths.

“The Day of Silence is [Gay Straight Aliance’s] biggest event of the year that we organize,” said Ethan Choy, Dougherty Valley GSA vice president. “What it means to me personally is really how we can empathize with people who are still hiding or people who have come out and how they felt originally.”

About 80 students wore the red shirts and placed colorful duct tape over their mouths. And more than 400 of the school’s 1,600 students showed their support by wearing bracelets or ribbons on their wrists.

“I want to make this school more tolerant,” GSA President Cierra Green said. “I’ve noticed a difference in atmosphere on campus compared to my freshman and sophomore year. People are a lot more accepting. Today has been a lot easier than it was last year.”

In addition to student support, several faculty and staff members wore the red Day of Silence shirts, including Assistant Principal Jason Krolikowski.

“We don’t ask our teachers to judge morally or ethically wrong,” Krolikowksi said. “In this case, [the day of silence] is more about the student and how they feel, and we need them to come to school and feel accepted and that this is their home and a place to be and to feel safe [not just today, but everyday].”

The sentiment applies to all students.

“The staff responded very well,” Green said. “They say 'good job,' and they’re proud of us standing up for who we believe in.”

After giving a presentation to the faculty about the Day of Silence and its meaning, Green said she received three hugs from teachers.

“I talked about how high school is important times for us, because this is the time we get to figure out who we are,” she said. “And people who are silenced for being gay, they miss out on that opportunity, making it easier for society to mold them into who they want them to be because they can’t speak of who they are.”

Aside from a few laughs or snickers, the students said the event was well received, with other students showing support or indifference without ostracizing them or their cause.

“In classrooms I don’t feel as alone, but when I’m walking alone in hallways, I feel very alone,” Green said of wearing the duct tape. “You feel very isolated when you wear the duct tape. Everyone knows, you feel like the attention is all on you.”

The event was publicized with posters and announcements. Choy said that the most difficult part of organizing the day was convincing students to be brave enough to sign up.

“Some people you know are just OK with it,” Choy said. “They’ll sign up for it. They don’t care what people say. But people who we know are allies are still scared to support us sometimes, and that was probably the hardest part.”

GSA adviser Allison Gardiner said that students at Dougherty Valley are much more accepting than students at other schools at which she has taught.

“Kids have had things thrown at them, everything from being shoved into lockers, water bottles thrown at them, clay in art class, papers, just pushed in the hallway,” Gardiner said. “Especially on the Day of Silence, when that’s almost a spotlight on the issue.”

One of GSA's goals is to stop people from using the phrase “That’s so gay” as a substitute for words such as "dumb" or "stupid."

“To hear the word 'gay' as a substitute for 'dumb' or 'stupid' or 'unnecessary' is sort of derogatory and demeaning to people that are LGBT and just to kind of stop that is something powerful,” Gardiner said.

Green said that many students on campus have started to become more tolerant and have stopped using the phrase.

The students feel good about what they have accomplished through the GSA club, and about its mission to raise LGBT awareness and to bring equality to people of all sexual orientations.

“There are a lot of people being bulled, harassed and teased for being who they are, and I think it’s wrong,” Green said.” I think society should stop outcasting people, because we are all the same.”

Alisha April 17, 2011 at 01:29 PM
I appreciate the Day of Silence and what these students are getting out of it. These students are implementing the very change we need in our society. I am super proud of those who signed up and wore the duct tape. Thank you for making a positive difference.
steve James April 17, 2011 at 11:33 PM
Alisha - I agree. What elsse I've noted, especially on gay kids youtube vlogs is that if a few nice comments are posted, a whole lot more follow. If a few bigots post, then all the bigots get active and open their hatefilled mouths. Thats why taking the initiative and being out is so important.
marilyn Bradley' April 18, 2011 at 04:14 AM
This is without a doubt the most incredible, outrageous thing I have ever witnessed - whose right is it to judge anybody's sexual preference? Why is ANYBODY involved in it? It's no one's business what my, yours or anybody elses business so back off, do what schools are supposed to do - TEACH the basics of education - reading, writing and arithmetic. If this Country got back to those basics, let the CHILDREN be CHILDREN, learn and move on without all this outside social junk, they would continue to learn what they need to know and other's sexuality is NOT one of those things! We are so hung up on social issues which are noone's business that we are at the bottom of the educational ladder globally and it's for these reasons that have nothing to do with learning math and science, only to satisfy special interest groups. WAKE UP, AMERICA! We are losing this battle and it's because of JUNK like this!!! There is no room for this kind of stuff in our schools - stop pushing this and other social agendas in our schools and TEACH the kids. M. Z. McHugh San Ramon
G April 18, 2011 at 05:22 AM
Completely and utterly ridiculous and shocking that anyone would place duct tape on anyone's mouth is weird and bizzaire. This is luncay that a school would allow this type of behavior.
G April 18, 2011 at 05:28 AM
Completly utterly ridiculous and shocking that anyone would place duct tape on anyone's mouth for any cause is very weird and bizzaire. This is luncay that a school would allow this type of strange behavior regardless ofthe cause. Is the school board sanctioning children placing duct tape over their mouths? There has to be a better way to show support than this. This is very weird and ridiculous behavior. Who thought of this and authorized this should be investigated and the PTA should be outraged.
Dan April 18, 2011 at 03:03 PM
As difficult as it may be for the bigots on this site to comprehend, the young adults took the initiative on their own to make this statement. Nobody was forced to do anything against their will. Ever heard of the First Amendment? It's that inconvenient constitutional provision ensuring free speech. Might want to fire up the Google machine and check it out. Congratulations to all who participated at DVHS-you are the generation to to make this change happen!
G April 18, 2011 at 03:21 PM
@Dan why such hostility towards those who also have First Amendment Rights? Seems to go along with the weird and bizzaire tactic of having high school children wearing duct tape, hopefully not under durees or undo influence of those we trust to educate them. Weird, bizzaire, shocking, and alarming. What does child protective services or child psycholgist have to say about this weirdness? This is unacceptable and wrong. Where is the outrage by the PTA?
Alisha April 18, 2011 at 03:30 PM
The duct tape is to show support...sure there are many other ways, including the red shirts but this is what was chosen by the staff and students. We should be praising this type of outreach instead of bashing their beautiful minds. Marilyn - you are suggesting these students go back into the closet with their beliefs, ideals and not express who they are. Generations are changing as they always have and expressing ones true self is now the order of the day. Appreciate this wonderful change because this acceptance will create a more peaceful enviornment for ALL. I smile greatly at these students and appreciate the unspoken outreach...you have class and the adults in the community need to learn from you.
G April 18, 2011 at 03:48 PM
@Alisha I spoke with DVHS schools student and teacher and they reported being confused by the duct tape and it freaked them out seeing other students wearing duct tape over their mouths. They were also freaked out that sexuality was brought into the school system. This is bizzaire, weird, and shocking that this type of behavior was authorized and sanctioned by school officials. The PTA should be outraged and this tactic (duct taping over students mouths) regardless of purpose should never take place again. No one is faulting the students, but looking for responsible leadership from the adults (educators) that we as parents entrust our children to for educational purposes, who promoted, authorized, and sanctioned this event. I would like an independent outside agency to look into this event being authoerized in a public school setting and the tactic of children being encouraged to place duct tape over their mouths. Where is the PTA on this issue?
Dan April 18, 2011 at 04:02 PM
G-I'd say the school administration supports this. Take a look at the Assistant Principal's comments halfway through the piece. Also, PTA's have nothing to do with these kind of student-lead events. The PTA has no authority in school administration decisions. If the administration approved it, which obviously they did based on the Ass't Principal's comments, that is the end of it.
Kristin Girard April 18, 2011 at 04:32 PM
Marilyn, While I agree with your view of schools being concerned with things other that the basics of education, for students at the high school level this kind of event is educational and promotes tolerance. Perhaps, you are too far removed from youth of this age to know how much this topic affects so many of them. Are not our schools to teach tolerance and acceptance? Perhaps you too could take a lesson from these students.
K April 20, 2011 at 04:37 AM
This would be outrageous of students were FORCED to take part in the event. The only students that had duct tape on their mouths were students that were moved by the issue and wanted to support the harassment that LGBTQ students feel every day. I think it is disgusting that people are outraged by this. People would not feel outrage if the students had done the same thing against racism or sexism, but when it has to do with homosexuality people freak out. We should be proud of the students for caring about homophobia and bullying and for taking a stand against it. I am so proud of these students, especially the non LGBTQ students that support their peers.
G April 20, 2011 at 06:39 AM
This is not why parents send their children to schools in the San Ramon Valley School District. The parents have a right not to have their children exploited or humiliated by either participating or choosing not to participate in such events. We as parents expect more from those we entrust to educate our children and not to place them in these controversial situations. This event is shocking and alarming. Children should never under any circumstance have to place duct tape over their mouths for any reason, ever. Remember children are not adults and havea right not to be unduly influenced and/or coerced by persons of authority that have familiar custody of them to particapate and/or commit humiliating acts . This incident is very disturbing and distracting and has no place in an academic setting.
Janice P Ellis April 20, 2011 at 03:37 PM
It's interesting how some who commented here are so bent out of shape about this event. The article clearly states that about 80 students (out of a total student population of 1,600), went the duct tape route, which clearly shows that it was voluntary. It's not like they were thrown to the ground and duct taped as soon as they set foot on the school grounds. It was a CHOICE. I applaud the students of Dougherty High, and the students in other Bay Area high schools and beyond who have participated in the Day of Silence. It's very important to learn tolerance and acceptance of others. Receiving a well-rounded education involves much more than academics, particularly with the complex social issues we face in today's society. It involves learning not to stereotype. It involves learning to accept the beliefs of others, even when those beliefs are in stark contrast to your own. It involves learning respect and empathy for others. Those of you who think you can shield your children from these issues and that all your children will need to be ready for the world is a degree and your blessing are kidding yourselves. Thank God the students are awake to these issues. Obviously, based on some of the comments here, some of their parents aren't.
K April 20, 2011 at 10:48 PM
Very well said Janice. No one "had" to put duct tape on the mouths and even the majority of the students that were involved on the day of silence chose other ways to suppoer it like wearing ribbons. It is disgusting that ADULTS cannot see the good in this activity. One of DVHS's goals is to stand up for the ethical treatment of all people and that is exactly what the day of silence promotes.
G April 21, 2011 at 04:08 AM
It is disgusting that some persons feel the need to try and justify this event and the humilation and exploitation of children placing duct tape over their mouths. Most students at DVHS are under the age of consent, and in the care of adults (educators) who can easily be unduly influence or coerced into participating in such an event. Numerous students, teachers, and parents are extremely offended and feel it is wrong to bring sexual orientation into a school setting. Prudent and Responsible thinking adults know this event was wrong because it has no place in a public school setting, it was devicsive, it ostracized students and staff, and made the majority of the student body, staff, and parents feel very uncomfortable. Very bad idea that should never happen again. Regardless of anyone's personal views, it was offensive, weird, and a very bizzareeventy. This event was not about tolerance, but more about a progressive agenda of exploiting a social issue that has no business in a school for children. We expect more from the Administrators of DVHS and the Superintendent of the San Ramon School District to have authorized and allowed this controversial event to occur in one of our schools. Completely unacceptable.
JP April 21, 2011 at 05:01 AM
Some have no respect for what is right and want their perverse version of a "new morality" upheld as an "equally valid alternative." This is what is being pushed on our children. The agenda to indoctrinate into such a destructive, sinful lifestyle is not only harmful to those practicing it but to society. We can no longer ignore this because it is not just kept in the privacy of their bedrooms anymore but is being endorsed by laws that uphold this behavior as normal and maybe something one should consider. It's so important for people to no longer be silent about this because the future of this state, our country is at stake both financially and morally. Contact your legislators and tell them to vote No on SB 48 which mandates homosexual-bisexual-transsexual role models for children in public schools.
Janice P Ellis April 21, 2011 at 04:46 PM
G and JP - your comments are perfect examples of why tolerance and respect for the beliefs of others is so important. I don't understand the gay/lesbian/transgender/bisexual lifestyles. I never have. Thankfully though, I'm not charged to understand it. I CHOOSE not to condemn it, nor judge it. While you're both on your moral high horses, please try to recall that the purpose of the Day of Silence event is to bring AWARENESS of the harassment and bullying of people who choose these lifestyles. It's not about recruitment. You can yell until the cows come home, but, events like this are NOT being pushed on the students, which is obvious from the number of students at Dougherty High who actively participated in the event. The fact that most of the students at Dougherty High are under the age of consent doesn't mean that they're not ready to start to think about the issues and problems in society. To disagree with the gay lifestyle is one thing; but, to refer to it as perverse and sinful reeks of being judgmental and borderline hateful. God loves us all - and He charges us to do the same.
Dan April 21, 2011 at 05:40 PM
There is nothing borderline hateful about their comments-they are filled with hate. They have jumped into the deep end of the hate-filled pool and have been swimming laps there all their lives. There is no possibility of reaching or reasoning with people like this. They are lost.
the dogfather April 21, 2011 at 09:04 PM
There is a similar thread going on over at Danville Weekly. I just thought I woud weigh-in here and express KUDOS to the students who organized and carried out this program. By your actions you have shown yourselves worthy of a great deal more credit than several commenters seem inclined to grant you -- indeed, much more than I'd be inclined to grant them. Thanks for your spirit and resolve -- you make the world a better place!
G April 22, 2011 at 01:40 AM
It is more about love, kindness, caring and protecting the innoscence of children from adults who choose to exploit and humiliate school aged children. Take prayer and the pledge of allegiance out of our schools, but bring in sexuality. This is shocking, disgusting, and disturbing to hear that children were encouraged or unduly influenced to wear duct tape over their mouths to show support for a progressive agenda for adults. The students did not do anything wrong, it is the adults and school officials that authorized and promoted this weird event. This is about how all people feel, not just those who choose to exploit children with a personal agenda. The event was weird, bizzare, and has no business taking place in a high school. Leave the children alone and save the social progressive agenda for adults. We do not want this outrageous event to ever take place again in any San Ramon school. A full blown investgation by child protective services should occur. Very very weird that a prudent sound minded reasonably thinking adult would actualy attempt to justify this event and further insult everyone that it was the childrens doing. Sounds like a second victimization and exploitation of children from those promoting this nonsense.
the dogfather April 22, 2011 at 02:00 PM
@G: apparently you inhabit the planet Hyperbole. There's nothing to be said about your individual claims without unduly dignifying them. Please turn off channel 2, go outside and breathe.
Janice P Ellis April 22, 2011 at 06:25 PM
I'm sorry, G, but, perhaps you'd like to point out where the love, kindness and caring is in your posts, because I'm not finding it. And, I hate to break it to you, but, the "children" you refer to are actually knocking on the door of adulthood. This is Dougherty High school, not Dougherty Daycare. "Children" in high school, as you repeatedly refer to them, aren't quite as innocent as you think. I've thought a lot about this thread during the last few days. While I'm sure you love your children, I couldn't help but picture how you would react if your child came to you and said, "...I'm gay..." Instead of reacting with understanding and support, based on the viewpoints you've shared here, you would react with horror and a complete lack of understanding and acceptance. I find it interesting that you feel this kind of "outrageous event" should never take place again in any SAN RAMON school. What about events like this that are taking place in high schools in other cities? Is that OK, or do you only care about what's happening in your own back yard? It's like you're living in a bubble called San Ramon. With your comment about bringing in child protective services to conduct a "full blown investigation" though, I'm done. That one comment told me everything I need to know.
G April 23, 2011 at 04:13 AM
Yes, love, caring, and respect for all the children regardless of their sexual preference. This event is unacceptable and inappropiate for any school any where in the nation. They are children and do not need to be exposed to sexuality,alternative life styles, or exploited by adults with social agendas at school. Leave the children alone and find another venue to push this nonsense and social agenda. I spoke with other parents around the bay area, and throughout the country and they all agree this is weird and bizzare. I know of no other school in the country that would host such a humiliating event exploiting children and having children place tape over their mouths except at DVHS. This is unacceptable and needs to be stopped from ever happening again.
Jennifer Wadsworth April 23, 2011 at 07:14 AM
G, I'm pretty sure the students themselves organized this event.
Linda Park April 23, 2011 at 04:52 PM
The students in the Gay Student Alliance club at DVHS organized this event themselves as part of a nationwide event organized by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network. So this is definitely not an event coordinated by school officials or faculty, and it was in schools across the nation. Here is where you can find additional information on the event. http://dayofsilence.org/
G April 23, 2011 at 05:07 PM
The school and the officials we entrust to educate and protect our children from home while in their custody are ultimately responsible for every event that is brought into or that occurs on school property. The school officials should not have allowed this event to take place at DVHS, or any other school. Any responsible adult knows this event has no business in a school setting, and placing duct tape over any persons mouth for any reason is never acceptable, especially in a school setting. All the community is asking for is a change of venue and not during school hours. This event is a social agenda and should never take place at any school. It is offensive to many of the students, parents, and staff. School is difficult enough for our children without bringing in social agendas of any group regardless of what they are.

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