On Wednesday, March 20, 2013, members of the Gay-Straight Alliance at Milford High School put up posters throughout the school to promote “A Day of Silence,” a national event designed to protest the silencing of students with different sexual orientations, including gay and lesbian students. Participants agree to remain silent for the entire day to represent those who do not have voices, namely teens who resort to suicide due to bullying based on their sexual orientation. According to Cory Morris, a senior at the school, the school principal, Dr. David Carter, sent an email to teachers ordering the posters removed, which he feels is discrimation.
“There were several different posters, many of which were printed from online sources,” Mr. Morris explained. “I know that two or three of them came from the Day of Silence website, but I am not sure where others came from.” Dr. Carter says that the subject of the posters had nothing to do with their removal, however.
“I have never spoken to the club members regarding this matter, and can say without question that no discrimination was intended,” Dr. Carter explained. “Every poster that goes up in the school needs to follow protocol, and be approved by my office. The students are often unaware of what goes on behind the scenes and may not realize that the items they see on the wall have gone through a strict approval process.” Dr. Carter explained that the problem with the GSA posters was that the students put up far too many, and some of them did cross the line of appropriateness.
“Some of them actually told students they were no longer allowed to say ‘boyfriend’ or ‘girlfriend,’ that they should use the term ‘partner’ as it was more acceptable,” Dr. Carter stated. Dr. Carter also explained that every advisor understands that they must have posters approved before they are posted on school walls.
“It was more than just that they didn’t get approval,” Dr. Carter explained further. “There were far too many of the posters placed around the school. This is a public school setting, and the number of posters placed about this event gave the appearance of forcing the even on those who may have differing views. That many posters was unfair to those in the school who may be uncomfortable with such an event.” Dr. Carter says he has discussed the matter with the advisor for GSA and she has agreed to explain the matter to the students.
GSA contends that no other group in the school has had to remove posters, yet Dr. Carter says that is completely untrue.
“I have had to tell many organizations to remove posters from the walls, including the Bible Club,” Dr. Carter explained. “In fact, when I walked through the school today, the only group with posters on the wall was the GSA, so stating that we were discriminating is certainly untrue. This is all a matter of miscommunication and misunderstanding. I want students to know that anytime they have an issue with a decision I have made, my door is always open. If I have offended you, or someone on the staff has offended you, let’s sit down and have a conversation about it.”
Dr. Carter instructed custodians to install four large bulletin boards in different locations throughout the school on Friday to better control what is posted in the school, and to make it easier for students to see what events are happening.
“The bulletin boards will give a central location for students to see upcoming events,” Dr. Carter explained. “However, the rules still apply. Anything placed on the boards must be approved by the office.”
The Day of Silence is scheduled for April 19, and Dr. Carter says the students are welcome to participate if they choose.
“I want to make it clear that I do not tolerate disrespect,” Dr. Carter stated. “But students need to understand that tolerance goes both ways.”