On April 8, 2022, Wellesley Middle School (WMS), in Wellesley Mass., staged a “Day of Silence” to, according to the school’s principal, “recognize the silencing of the LGBTQ community.”
The principal claimed the event was “sponsored” by the school’s “Gay-Straight Alliance” student club:
“WMS’ Gay-Straight Alliance sponsors the Day of Silence, a day to recognize the silencing of the LGBTQ community in our society.”
Middle schoolers are aged 10-14.
A parent who contacted Parents Defending Education about the event said:
“The school is misleading when they say this is a student-led event. The notice came in three separate emails so far from the principal and he is encouraging us parents to discuss it with our children.”
Wellesley Public Schools (WPS) promotion of GLSEN’s “day of silence”:
From a review of Wellesley Public Schools documents conducted by Parents Defending Education, the school’s principal promoted the event four times in the week leading up to the April 8 event, and district administrators have promoted the event since at least 2015.
In the April 10, 2015 edition of the district’s “Superintendent’s Bulletin,” the superintendent wrote: “On Friday, April 17, 2015, WHS students will take a stand against intolerance and hate by participating in GLSEN’s Day of Silence.”
4/17/15 – GLSEN Day of Silence
5 Things that Faculty and Staff can do during the Day of Silence
On Friday, April 17, 2015, WHS students will take a stand against intolerance and hate by participating in GLSEN’s Day of Silence. The Day of Silence is a day in which to bring to light the bullying and issues faced by students who are LGBTQ or perceived to be LGBTQ. Listed below are a few things that faculty and staff can do during the Day of Silence:
1. Acknowledge the Silence. The easiest way to assist your students is to acknowledge the silence – please bring up the Day of Silence as a topic in your class or advisory so that others will be aware of its’ purpose. By explaining the purpose of the day you help other students to move beyond their initial thoughts: “Weird, why are all these kids so quiet? What’s with the buttons? Why would anyone feel alone at WHS?”
2. Show Your Support With a Button. Show your support by wearing a button stating that “no one is alone” at WHS. GloW will be selling buttons during lunch next week for $2.00 each.
3. Watch a short video on LGBTQ bullying. Nobody feels more like “a nobody” than a young person struggling with LGBTQ bullying, sexual orientation and/or gender identity issues. Read up on what the Massachusetts General Laws (Chapter 76 Section 5) say about the rights LGBTQ students and public education.
4. Incorporate LGBTQ people/issues into your curriculum. Even if for only a day, try incorporating LGBTQ people and/or issues into your classes. By incorporating these into your curriculum, you are showing your students that you aren’t afraid to talk about homosexuality and that creates a more accepting environment in your classroom. There are LGBTQ people in all fields of study!
5. Show them this short video that WHS students created. Tell your students that you appreciate what they are doing, that you’re proud of them for standing up for something they believe in, or that you’re there to support them no matter what.
The GLSEN organization:
The GLSEN organization was founded in 1990 as a “teachers network”, the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Teachers Network, but renamed itself in the 90s. The organization underwent a “strategic refresh” in 2020 to focus on “racial gender and disability justice.” GLSEN provides professional development and resources to K-12 teachers. The group supports transgender and queer identity formation to teens through thousands of school-based “gender-sexuality alliances, or GSAs” in 38 states across the country.
According to GLSEN’s website:
“GLSEN’s “Day of Silence” occurs every April, when people in schools across the country engage in direct action through a silent protest to call attention to the silencing and erasure of LGBTQ+ people in schools.”
In a January, 2022 interview, GLSEN’s executive director, Melanie Willingham-Jaggers, who self-identifies as “nonbinary” and uses “they/them” pronouns explained:
“LGBTQ+ young people in schools and their student groups, like GSAs, have always been the hub, kind of the breeding ground, the soil from which these sparks of activism come up,” they said. “What we understand is that young people—period—are going to help us understand the vision forward and the way forward to the future.”
The chairman of GLSEN’s board of directors is Rocio Inclan, the senior director for social justice at the National Education Association. The NEA teachers union is the nation’s largest labor union.
WMS parent concerns:
A parent who contacted Parents Defending Education about the event raised concern about the pressure teachers and staff at Wellesley Middle School were placing on students to participate in the event:
“My daughter mentioned that her teacher mentioned, a couple of days prior to the Day of Silence, that she was disappointed at the level of participation in the event (because they had to fill out their participation form) and encouraged them to participate. This made my daughter feel like the teacher, whom she really likes, would be disappointed in her if she did not participate.
I teach my kids to respect everyone, but why on earth would I ask my child if she “plans” to participate. I expect her to go to school for academics, not activism. Furthermore, this has become known as a way to show that you “support” the LBGTQ community, by wearing a wrist band and being silent. Consequently, if a child chooses not to participate, they will be seen as “anti-LGBTQ.” This puts pressure on students and it is totally inappropriate.”
WPS “diversity, equity and inclusion” documents:
GLSEN’s national “day of silence”:
GLSEN’s official nationwide “Day of Silence” is planned for April 22. WMS scheduled its version of the day early due to the school’s spring break the week of April 18-22.