In April 2021, Scottsdale’s Cocopah Middle School teachers encouraged students to participate in GLSEN’s “Day of Silence.” It’s a day that didn’t turn out as Principal Nick Noonan planned.
GLSEN claims to promote support for LGBTQIA+ youth, while actually pushing a wide-ranging political agenda, from defunding the police to promoting the belief that gender binary is a white supremacist concept. The organization states that its agenda is to inject their ideology “wall-to-wall, K-12” in Arizona schools. To that end, they offer training to coach teachers how to skirt transparency policies, the law and parents to bring the content into classrooms.
In fact, according to AZ Free News, Noonan last March “required teachers to attend a training on supporting and affirming LGBTQ+ ideologies in children. Email records show Noonan paid $500 in school funds for the two-hour training, “Safer Spaces,” conducted by the Phoenix chapter of Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network (GLSEN), a national organization pushing LGBTQ+ ideologies onto minors and communities. Noonan characterized the training as professional development in an email obtained by AZ Free News.”
So it seems evident that despite GLSEN’s controversial procedures and political agenda, Noonan and his team were committed completely to that agenda when they allowed Cocopah Middle School students to participate in the group’s 2021 “Day of Silence” to bring awareness to what they claim is widespread oppression of the LGBTQIA+ community.
Noonan and administration staff went so far as to refuse to notify parents of the event, while taking time to plan school-wide morning announcements and videos.
According to emails obtained through public records requests, 11-to-13 year old students were strongly encouraged to take and display cards of support for sexual and gender liberalism. Those that didn’t comply were labeled as bigots by other students, and those who did take cards were praised by teachers.
Ironically, GLSEN claims the “Day of Silence” is needed to promote inclusivity and tolerance.
The following are parents’ comments about the 2021 Day of Silence obtained via public records requests. The messages contradict the claim that these days offer support to children. On the contrary, what ensued was chaos and hatred that drove a wedge between students and further eroded parents’ trust in Scottsdale public schools.
Note: parents’ names have been removed to protect their identities. SUSD has redacted student information.
“This day of silence set the students up to fail, made children feel uncomfortable, anxious and turned friends against each other.”
“My [redacted] was pretty upset that he was called “homophobic” by several students because [redacted] didn’t want to put tape on his mask. [Redacted] didn’t understand what was going on and was upset that people were turning over tables and being so aggressive.”
“[Redacted] had papers shoved in their faces repeatedly as they entered the school building.”
“[Redacted] witnessed a fight at lunch over disparaging words on both sides of the issue.”
“Children were called homophobic for answering a question in class, which is part of the us/them issue – basically, if you were speaking, you must be against the issue and therefore homophobic.”
“Concerns began to surface Thursday evening in my [redacted] social circles, as students began establishing arbitrary ground rules as to what behavior would be tolerated in support of today’s events. No speaking, no questions, no interaction whatsoever – inside or outside the classroom. Those who failed to accept these guidelines where [sic] immediately branded a homophobe and berated, insulted, cast aside and unfriended.
Rumors swirled that teachers would not be speaking in class. Social media posts circulated saying, “Just shut up. It’s not that hard not to be homophobic.” [Redacted] was called a homophobe by a group of unknown girls for having the audacity to kindly say “hi,” to someone. We are hearing similar stories from many other parents at the school. This is not inclusivity [sic]. This is not tolerance. This is not honoring one’s First Amendment rights. This is bullying, and it’s the school’s responsibility to address it. It is unacceptable for students to have their names and reputations destroyed for showing kindness or doing what they need to learn.”
Many parent’s rightly expressed concerns that their children did not even know what they were being asked (socially forced) to participate in.
“I understand and have heard from parent friends that there is a stand for LGBTQ silence tomorrow and children are required to make a decision what they support. ….[Redacted] and doesn’t even know what the initials stand for.”
“These kids are as young as [redacted], and in order to have this event go smoothly, they both have to understand the fundamentals of the gay/straight alliance and also understand that the offered sticker or paper is a choice and that they should not be harassed for either taking or refusing it.”
Other parents offered suggestions to Nick Noonan and school administration.
“Do the GSA meetings take place during school hours? I’m guessing they take place after school hours. If the GSA felt the need to express their First Amendment rights, they should have done it after school hours. There was absolutely NO NEED to subject the entire student population to this “social experiment.”
“I think it would be appropriate to have a day of silence for the police who faithfully serve and protect our communities. They certainly deserve our respect and encouragement during these difficult times.”
Some parents asked for repercussions about what they perceived was bad behavior by those promoting the “Day of Silence.”.
“On a personal note, since [redacted] was recently given a week of [redacted] over closing a gate at recess, I would certainly hope that students who threatened other students in the lunchroom and those that called other children disparaging names would be found and held accountable as well.”
“This event was heavily promoted by STAFF, not just students. As always, I am sure there will be zero repercussions for staff that engage in bullying and intimidating students.”
Several parents were concerned about the sexual nature of the event.
“The problem was not lack of communication. The problem was, and is, the staff at Cocopah forcing their beliefs unto captive students that have no choice to be there or not. I would also point out that 6-8 graders are not legally permitted to engage in sexual activity of any kind, so why would you promote children engaging in illegal activity?”
“I take no issue with the GSA or its members, everyone should be entitled to their individual liberties. My fear is that the political environment is being infused into our community classroom and is creating unnecessary disruption. I don’t believe there have been any other day’s of silence in honor of other clubs? But now it seems the schools have deemed it their responsibility to introduce and sway children in regards to sex and politics, a very slippery slope don’t you think? Our middle school students should not be made political pawns.
And then there were many general frustrations expressed by parents about the event.
“[Redacted], this particular event was the single-most disruptive event our family has experienced.”
“To say that we are FURIOUS over the “Day of Silence” observed on the Cocopah campus during school hours last Friday would be putting it lightly!”
“We send [redacted] to school to learn math, science, English, etc. Not to force them to partake in events deemed appropriate by a tiny minority of the school population.”
“My opinion about this school has drastically changed for the worst. I just don’t know if I want to keep my child enrolled at Cocopah anymore. [My child] is very upset and does not want to go to a school that puts [redacted] in this position.”
“It is my understanding that the students will be given a card at the beginning of the day to carry around and place on their desk showing support of the LBGTQ community.
Please tell me this is not true! My [redacted] is concerned that if [redacted] does not take a card, [redacted] will be shamed for not being in support of the LBGTQ community. If [redacted] talks, [redacted] will look like an insensitive person that does not support LBGTQ. Why are middle schoolers being put in this position?”
“Steve [Salcito] noted it was important to honor the students First Amendment rights. So just so we are clear on this … You deemed it appropriate to interfere with the First Amendment rights of every other student on campus who aren’t associated with the GSA by silencing them via a “Day of Silence”. This is absurd on so many levels!!”
The question now is will Nick Noonan, Scottsdale Unified School District, and Cocopah Middle School repeat their mistake and promote the 2022 GLSEN “Day of Silence” on April 22nd? Will the district allow this to spread to other campuses?
That is only a question that SUSD Superintendent Scott Menzel and Principal Nick Noonan can answer, but parents and members of the Scottsdale community say they will be watching.