Friday, April 25, 2008

Silence about silence?

I've been pretty quiet today. I'm not generally a loud person, but today I've been especially quiet. Today, you see, is the Day of Silence, a day when students across the country are silent in remembrance of people who feel discriminated against because of their sexual orientation. This year, the Day of Silence honored Lawrence King, a 15-year-old California student who was killed because of his sexual orientation.

The mantra behind the Day of Silence says it all:
Please understand my reasons for not speaking today. I am participating in the Day of Silence, a national youth movement bringing attention to the silence faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and their allies. My deliberate silence echoes that silence, which is caused by anti-LGBT name-calling, bullying and harassment. I believe that ending the silence is the first step toward building awareness and making a commitment to address these injustices. Think about the voices you are not hearing today. What are you going to do to end the silence?

The Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (the group that organizes the Day of Silence) found in 2005 that four out of five LGBT students had been verbally or physically harrassed at school. Over 75 percent had heard negative or offensive language used about sexuality.

I'm straight, but since my freshman year of high school I've participated in the Day of Silence. It's important to me that discrimination ends, and that people feel accepted and safe -- especially in a school environment. In college, I've still participated, but I've found it to be more difficult. For one thing, my class schedule is different, and so my silence during the day doesn't make as much of an impact. (The biggest difference it made today was that I got coffee at Au Bon Pain instead of Starbucks.) For another, I've found it hard to find a community of people participating with me. Allied in Pride, GW's LGBT group, seems to operate under the radar. The last event listed on their website is from April 1. You can't even join their Facebook group without being invited. Until I went looking, I didn't know that anyone else on GW's campus was participating in the Day of Silence. While I'm glad to know the event is taking place at GW, it would have been nice to see a little more publicity for it around campus.

Tonight at 8:30, Allied in Pride is hosting a Breaking the Silence event in Kogan. Even if you weren't silent today, consider going to see what it looks like when people come together to oppose discrimination.


Alli said...

I had several friends participate in this day at my high school and I always wore the ribbon in support of them on the day of silence. Its really sad that the day receives so little publicity from organizers at GW. I'm glad to know people are still observing Day of Silence even without a large group of people openly organizing it.

Mackenzie said...

Umm...I update the AiP website, and all of April's events are listed. Day of Silence is right here: If you look at the bottom, it was put up on March 26. Most of April's stuff was posted in March. The self-defense one was posted April 6.

Additionally, there was tabling with Day of Silence kits during the week leading up to Day of Silence and posters were strewn about campus.