Monday, April 23, 2007


I was just forwarded this e-mail tonight from the UW Social Work LGBT Student group:

Dear LGBT Social Work/Welfare Group ,

As you may be aware, April 18th is the national Day of Silence in support of GLBT community. The Day Of Silence is meant to bring attention to anti-GLBY harassment, discrimination, etc. in schools. In its 11th year, it is one of the largest and most wide spread student lead actions in the United States.

A group of my friends and I, some of us bisexual, some straight, some questioning, all decided to participate in the Day of Silence. It just so happened that April 18th was also the day that our school was scheduled to go to a local play, Anne Frank.

Well, as soon as the teachers found out that we were taking part in this national day of GLBT support, they immediately told us that it was "stupid", and that we should "just give up now" because there was no way that we would be able to do it. Undaunted, we stuck to it, refusing to speak. All was well until our science teacher, Mr. Rohl, heard that we were planning to remain silent for the whole day. Mr. Rohl told my friend Holly that she was to get everyone that was choosing to participate in the Day of Silence and report to the office. So me and two of my friends went to the office like we were supposed to, only to be shoved aside while Mr. Rohl and the principal, Mr. Johnson, left for the Anne Frank play with the rest of the students.

Eventually, Mr. Danke, our vice principal, called me into his office. He told me that I was "working against the school" in my actions, that he "didn't support the cause", and ended by telling me that I was going to be given in school suspension (ISS) of the rest of the day, seeing as to how I was refusing to speak. He also said that it was my choice to skip the play, though no one ever asked me if I was wanted to go or not. I am not expected to reimburse Mr. Rohl for the money he spent on the tickets for the play, because of my "bad choices".

My friends all got the same treatment, and when we tried to communicate with Mr. Danke through writing, he refused to listen to us unless we were willing to break the silence and speak.

The irony of the situation wasn't lost on my friends and me, either. The rest of our class was going to see a play based on promoing tolerance, which we were being forced to miss because of a very intolerant teacher.

Even after the Day of Silence, teachers are still making fun of us, telling us that it was stupid and that we had made a bad choice.

So pretty much my friends and I are being persecuted for standing up for what we believe in. Our rights are being infringed upon-the first amendment-the right to speak, or not speak, as we choose.

Anything you could do would be greatly appreciated. Even if you could just email the teachers that were involved, i would be very happy. Mr. Danke's email address is, and Mr. Rohl's email address is


Maggie Tuveson

8 Blue, Meyer Middle School

River Falls, WI

While the actions of the vice-principal and the teacher did not necessarily surprise me, I still couldn't help but be appalled. It is especially ironic to me, as the young woman writing the e-mail pointed out, that they were going to see a play that very day about the extreme effects of intolerance, oppression and silencing of minority voices. Obviously I know that there is still plenty of intolerance throughout the country, but it is still upsetting to me each time I hear about it. It is especially upsetting in school settings, where I think teachers and administrators are exercising an extreme abuse of power when they allow their own moral viewpoints to guide them in their disciplinary actions. No matter what the teacher's view on homosexuality was, he has an obligation to keep the school a safe space for all students. I'm all for freedom of speech and difference of opinions, but a classroom is a place where no student should feel threatened or silenced because of some type of innate aspect of their identity. I think that people who are close-minded and intolerant have no business being educators.

That's all for now. Just wanted to share. Anyone else who feels upset about this is welcome to use the information provided.

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