Day of Silence

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Day of Silence

Lyndsey Wilson, Junior Writer

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In 1996, student Maria Pulzetti wanted to raise awareness of the bullying and harassment of the LGBTQ+ community. A year later, the Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network (GLSEN) made the Day of Silence an official project and the day became an annual holiday held in the U.S. and other countries, such as New Zealand and Russia.

“It’s important to observe the Day of Silence, not only to draw attention to the struggles of the LGBTQ+ community, but for anyone who feels that they are ignored, misunderstood or alienated from others,” GSA club sponsor Mrs. Kathleen Plewa said.

On April 12, the Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) club held an event in which members and participating students, remained silent for the school day, in order to symbolically represent the silencing of the LGBTQ+ community. During lunch, a table was set-up for students to get some information about Day of Silence, the club itself, and about the LGBTQ+ community in general.

“Throughout the day there were some conflicts and people made some hurtful comments on social media about some of our more visible participants,” GSA club vice-president Darian Schumacher said. “While these comments were upsetting to many of our school’s LGBTQ+ community, at the end of the day, those ignorant comments actually proved our point and showed the rest of the student body why we have a need for events like this.”

Although the club received a lot of support and even had some students and teachers asking about the club shirts, some controversy arose as well. An argument broke out during a lunch hour at the table – one student recording their friend who was asking the three GSA club members at the table some questions: “Why are you doing this?”; “Why are you shoving this in our faces?” among other questions that could be taken harshly.

“I’m glad to see something I did alone my freshman year grow so big,” GSA club president Richard Jay said.

In 1997, Day of Silence went international, with almost 100 colleges and universities participating in the event. In 2001, GLSEN made it an official event, with as many as 10,000 people registering their participation through the GLSEN website. It was created in response to a class assignment on non-violent protests with over 150 students participating. In 2008, the day was held in memory of Lawrence King – a gay eighth grader who was shot by a classmate.

Today, Day of Silence is proudly participated by numerous students, gay and straight alike in high schools all across the country. It has evolved from a memorial to a celebration of sexuality, the strides that have been taken and what still needs to be done to reach the ultimate goal of equality.