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She won't stay mum about Day of Silence

New board member warns of 'dangers of a homosexual lifestyle'

April 20, 2010

Germantown — Is it a day to combat bullying or a way to promote gay rights?

Newly elected School Board member Diana Kline so strongly opposed the Day of Silence observance at the high school Friday, she had planned to keep her two children home that day, according to an e-mail she sent to district administrators and board members.

On Tuesday, Kline declined to comment on the Day of Silence or whether she kept her children home, but Superintendent Kenneth Rogers confirmed that three students did not attend school that day for personal reasons. He could not confirm those personal reasons.

The Day of Silence is a student-led national event that brings attention to the name-calling, bullying and harassment of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students. Students from middle school to college take some form of a vow of silence to encourage schools and classmates to address the problem of anti-LGBT behavior.

The event is designed to illustrate the silencing effect of this bullying and harassment on LGBT students and those perceived to be LGBT.

Kline opposes 'propaganda'

Kline stated in her e-mail that the Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network, which sponsors the event, "promotes students and faculty to remain silent during instructional time of the day and/or it promotes teachers to arrange their lesson plans as such to create an environment that allows students and faculty to remain silent during class time."

"I will not allow them (her children) to be exposed to this misguided propaganda in the public school," she wrote.

In her e-mail, she included a link to a Web site created by the American College of Pediatricians "designed to provide policymakers, parents, administrators, teachers and youth with the most current medical and psychological facts about sexual development."

She also urged the administrators and board members to educate themselves "on the facts about the dangers of a homosexual lifestyle."

However, when asked about her views on the Day of Silence, she said declined to comment, adding that she plans to find out what other parents think about it.

"I want to be the voice of the people," she said.

To get her views, she suggested people call her directly at (262) 501-6716.

Guaranteed right

According to the Day of Silence Web site, students who participate in the program can express their opinions at a public school during noninstructional time, like breaks between classes, before and after the school day, lunchtime and any other free times. It notes students do not have a right to remain silent during class time, if a teacher asks them to speak.

Students are urged to talk to teachers in advance, asking if it would be OK to communicate in writing on that day.

"I was not aware of any change in teacher or student behavior other than the student-led anti-bullying, which included buttons and some posters," Rogers stated in an e-mail. "The students followed appropriate policy and procedure for student-led initiatives. Under district policy and guaranteed constitutional rights, these activities could not be denied."

He clarified that it was a student-led initiative; the district doesn't sponsor the event.

In response to a reporter's question about the allegations of propaganda, Rogers stated "as educators we do not allow proselytizing or propaganda on any issue.

"The district has a consistent and continual policy of anti-bullying," he added. "Anti-bullying is a yearly goal expressed and supported by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction.

"We believe such a goal to be very important in these times and appreciate any support in making sure all students are comfortable, safe and welcome in our buildings," he said. "When students or any other group volunteer to support such a goal, it is certainly welcome."

Kline is scheduled to be sworn in at the next School Board meeting Monday.

ON THE WEB

dayofsilence.org - Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network on Day of Silence

factsaboutyouth.com - American College of Pediatricians Web site on sexual development of youth

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