A Pennsylvania high school has come under media scrutiny after a group of students organized an "Anti-Gay Day" in response to the nationally-observed Day of Silence.
The Day of Silence, which has been officially organized by GLSEN (or the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network) since 2001, encourages students and young adults to take a vow of silence in an effort to prompt officials to address the problem of anti-lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) bullying and harassment in their schools.
Although the Day of Silence was observed April 17 nationally, McGuffey High School in Claysville scheduled their related activities for Wednesday, April 15 because of a planned field trip, BuzzFeed is reporting. This prompted the group of students to ask classmates to wear flannel shirts and write "anti-gay" on their hands on Thursday, April 16, in protest, according to WPXI-TV.
In addition, participants posted Bible verses on the lockers of students who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT), the news station noted. Meanwhile, some encounters between students who participated and those who didn't even got physical, The Advocate pointed out, and snapshots of the flannel-clad group appeared on social media.
"We came into school on Thursday and found a lot of people wearing flannel and we couldn’t figure out why,” Zoe Johnson, a 16-year-old McGuffey High School who identifies as bisexual, told BuzzFeed's David Mack. "People started getting pushed and notes were left on people’s lockers. ...I got called a dyke, a faggot. They were calling us every horrible name you can think of."
More troubling still was an alleged "lynch list," which the group was reported to have circulated around the school, according to WPXI-TV.
Sue Kerr, who is the editor-in-chief of Pittsburgh Lesbian Correspondents, slammed the event in a lengthy blog post.
"These kids didn’t just spontaneously pull a homophobic move. They have a plan," she wrote. "They have coordinated outfits. They live and attend school in a county with no discrimination protections based on sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression."
School officials have been mostly tight-lipped about the incident, but McGuffey High School Superintendent Erica Kolat released a statement to local station WPXI, noting that "allegations of harassment were brought to the attention of our administration."
"We resolve to ensure that all children can grow and learn in a safe, supportive environment free from discrimination," she noted.
Last week, the American Family Association's Tim Wildmon, who has been outspoken in his opposition to LGBT causes, was also critical of the Day of Silence, calling it a "hijacking of the classroom for political purposes."