April 20 marks the sixth annual Gay Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) Day of Silence.
According to the organization’s website, the event was founded as day of action to protest the bullying and harassment of lesbian, gay, bisexual transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) students and their supporters.
I have been actively participating in the event since 2000, my sophomore year of high school.
I would wear a white T-shirt and blue jeans, a white bandana over my mouth, while wearing or carrying a “speaking card.”
The purpose was to not speak for the entire school day in order to raise awareness.
The speaking card asks the person reading it “to please understand my reasons for not speaking. My deliberate silence echoes that silence, which is caused by anti-LGBT bullying, name-calling and harassment.”
It concludes with a statement of action “ending the silence is the first step toward building awareness and making a commitment to address these injustices.”
The Day of Silence is one step students and faculty can take in the fight for equality together.
Taking this step together can lead to a better environment for student and less violence towards the LGBTQ+ community.
It also continues to be increasingly relevant, even as society becomes more accepting of LGBTQ+ individuals.
Recently a group of Colorado State University students was allegedly attacked by a group of football players from the school after the players, in a passing car, were said to have yelled “homophobic slurs” at the students, according to a Huffington Post article.
It’s not known whether the victims were actually gay.
But actions like this show a continued need for awareness and acceptance.
Dayofsilence.org advises student participants to know the legal rights behind the day of silence and to have a vocal ally available to face any resistance from nonparticipants.
While participating in the event in the past I was harassed and physically attacked by a homophobic student.
I was able to resolve the issue with the help of my school administrators.
Having faced hatred, I wanted to fight back even more and keep the event going.
I am currently planning this year’s Day of Silence event for the Delta Pride club.
The club is going to have a table in the quad silently announcing the event and handing out information for students who want to participate. Participants will be wearing white T-shirts and blue jeans, some will have “NO H8” painted on their faces and tape across their mouth.