On April 8, 2022, Carondelet High School, an elite all-girls Catholic high school in Contra Costa County, Calif., took an all-day “vow of silence” to “protest the silencing of LGBTQIA+ voices.”
According to a post on the school’s official “CARONDELET_DEI” Instagram account, the school describes the “Day of Silence” as follows:
“Founded by GLSEN in April 2001, Day of Silence has been a day to protest against silence pushed on LGBTQ+ communities, historical figures and voices around the world.”
The GLSEN organization was founded in 1990 as a “teachers network”, the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Teachers Network, but renamed itself in the 90s. The organization underwent a “strategic refresh” in 2020 to focus on “racial gender and disability justice.” GLSEN provides professional development and resources to K-12 teachers. The group supports transgender and queer identity formation to teens through thousands of school-based “gender-sexuality alliances, or GSAs” in 38 states across the country.
In a January, 2022 interview, GLSEN’s executive director, Melanie Willingham-Jaggers, who self-identifies as “nonbinary” and uses “they/them” pronouns explained:
“LGBTQ+ young people in schools and their student groups, like GSAs, have always been the hub, kind of the breeding ground, the soil from which these sparks of activism come up,” they said. “What we understand is that young people—period—are going to help us understand the vision forward and the way forward to the future.”
The chairman of GLSEN’s board of directors is Rocio Inclan, the senior director for social justice at the National Education Association.
Carondelet DEI presents “Day of Silence”
GLSEN’s official nationwide “Day of Silence” is scheduled for April 22.
Carondelet “honored” the day on April 8, however, due to the school’s spring break the week of April 18-22.
According to parents who have spoken with Parents Defending Education, parents were not notified about the “Day of Silence.” Several expressed surprise and concern about the school’s lack of transparency and judgment in encouraging students to stay silent and participate in a day-long protest during a school day, especially one coordinated by a an activist group with an agenda that runs counter to the teachings of the Catholic faith, at a Catholic school.
Several parents expressed concern that the day was part of a pattern of gender-ideology activism at the school that has been crowding out Catholic teaching in recent years. Carondelet is in the Catholic Diocese of Oakland.
On April 6, the assistant dean of students announced the “protest” to students via a post to their “Schoology” accounts:
“Carondelet and De La Salle [the all-boys school next door] will be ‘honoring’ the Day of Silence by taking a vow of silence.”
The dean provided details about the day:
- The “vow” will last for the entire school day
- Students who wish to participate will be given a badge to “show their vow”
- Teachers will be monitoring students to make sure they “respect the badge”
- Participating students will be able to return their badge for a cookie at the end of the day
- After Spring Break, we will have a “Breaking the Silence Ceremony and Party.” The event will show how “lifting up queer voices can create a beautiful community.” We will celebrate with music and dancing.
Parents who spoke to Parents Defending Education after the day concluded reported that, despite the school’s claim that participation was “optional,” their daughters were made to feel that they had to “keep quiet.”
“One mother said, “kids don’t want their lives blown up [by having to] switch schools so they keep quiet.”
Students reported that in some classes, teachers and students sat in silence for a full 85-minute class period.
Other classes included teacher presentations, GLSEN videos, and TEDx talks, all while students were required to be silent for the entirety of class.
In one class, students were asked to read the Washington Post article: “Florida’s law limiting LGBTQ discussion in schools, explained“ and write a reflection.
One student’s response (shared with permission):
In a world history class, the posted “Day of Silence Agenda” was to “discuss the Day of Silence” but there was no discussion. The teacher and students spent the whole class in silence.
While raising concerns about the “protest” with Parents Defending Education, several mothers used the word “grooming” to describe it. All were deeply worried about the school’s pattern of “ceremonies” “celebrations” and “parties” “honoring” the transgender agenda in recent years.
The school’s official “CARONDELET_DEI” Instagram account includes a political post directing students to “take action to protect transgender and nonbinary young people in Texas.”
Other posts include:
- Pride Prom
- Free LGBTQ+ bracelets for “coming out” day
- Gender identity & pronouns at single-sex schools lunch
- PFLAG promotion
- Trans Lifeline
- GLAAD Media Awards tickets
- The Trevor Project
A review of the last years’ worth of posts turned up only one “Happy Birthday” greeting shout out. It was to Marsha P. Johnson, who the post described as a “American gay liberation activist and self-identified drag queen.”
One father expressed frustration that racial and gender activism was coming into religion class monthly.
The school, in an effort to be more “inclusive,” has replaced the Sign of the Cross during prayers with the words “Redeemer, Creator, Sustainer” (rather than “In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit”).
Several parents raised concerns about the “Day of Silence” with an email to the principal before the event:
“The solution to racism and intolerance is not the further entrenching of stereotypes and focusing on race and sexual identity. Rather, we should view each individual as a child of God and have love and respect for all. We are a Catholic school first and should be focused on Jesus.”
One mother’s letter to the school’s principal:
In a response to parents, Carondelet’s principal claimed the activism was in alignment with the “sponsorship of the Sisters of St. Joseph.” The Catholic order of nuns founded the school in 1965.
The Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph
The Sisters of St. Joseph’s website includes an “LGBTQ+” page:
At the conclusion of the “Day of Silence” at Carondelet High School on April 8, students were asked to “return their badges for a cookie in the I-center.” The “I-center” is the nickname for the school’s new STEM building, the Jean Hofmann Center for Innovation. Construction of the building was funded through a $15 million grant to Carondelet High School in 2018 from The Hofmann Family Foundation.
Parents told Parents Defending Education they have requested the school’s “Breaking the Silence Ceremony and Party” planned for after students return from spring break be cancelled and are now escalating their concerns to the bishop.
Said one mother:
“A ‘ceremony and party’ to ‘lift up queer voices’ isn’t tolerance, it’s indoctrination. And it isn’t appropriate at a Catholic school.”