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Promote understanding

Letter to the Editor

Posted: Monday, September 23, 2002

Related Story:

2 churches: Back off 'Day of Silence'

I read with interest the story on Sunday's front page about the Day of Silence observance at JDHS. The two churches that have proposed changing the Day of Silence to a Day of Respect are unintentionally providing an example of the type of behavior for which the Day of Silence is organized.

Around college and high school campuses, the Day of Silence is one day out of 365 days in the year when students participate by choice to stand in solidarity with their friends and family members who are gays, lesbians, bisexual and transgendered individuals. The students choose to spend one day in silence to promote understanding of those who often must remain silent about their lives in order to remain safe in their schools, places of worship and in the workplace.

I commend the students who organize and participated in the Day of Silence, and hope they are allowed to do so again this year.

One day of silence does not promote a lifestyle, any more than one hour of prayer around a flag pole promotes a religion. "See You At The Pole" rallies have been held at JDHS for several years and participation is by choice, just as participation in the Day of Silence is by choice.

The role of the school is to provide a safe environment where students can learn the critical tasks of learning to live in a multicultural, multiracial world. I expect the students to learn to read, to do math, to appreciate our heritage through study of history, literature, languages and the fine arts. I expect students to learn about citizenship and leadership. I personally also expect the school to teach decision making based on personal values, even when we as adult members of the community don't agree on what our personal values are. That is a part of living together - respecting differences in values.

The role of the family and the faith communities is to work within their individual groups and families to establish for themselves the definitions of the core values for their lives. Chapel By the Lake and Auke Bay Bible churches are working within their own groups to establish their values. These two groups, however, represent another vocal minority in Juneau, i.e. those people who participate in church. There are other faith communities in Juneau whose voices were not heard in the Empire article, and perhaps not in the site council meeting last week.

Let's let the students learn to make their own choices, based on their own family values. Let's let them learn leadership by making choices in the school.

Kim Poole

Retired United Methodist minister

Juneau



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