As someone who has participated in the National Day of Silence every year since the 7th grade, I have found that although most people have heard of it, they are not fully sure what it represents or the importance it has to students all across the country. Starting in 1996, The National Day of Silence is an annual event that brings attention to name-calling, harassment, and bullying towards LGBT students in schools, by being silent in their honor.
Day of Silence encourages every school it is held at to create a safer, more comfortable environment for all of its students, and to not put up with discrimination. This issue is especially important to highlight in high schools and middle schools, because that is where the majority of the overt, and physical, day-to-day bullying occurs.
It is hard to see how this would be, since many of us may have never witnessed someone getting beaten up or harassed for their actual, or assumed, sexual orientation, but school climate surveys such as ones conducted by the Gay and Lesbian Student Education Network (GLSEN) conclude that about 9 out of every 10 LGBT students get harassed at school.
As a first year, and as President of the Sexual Diversity Alliance (SDA) for the upcoming school year, my goal is to promote acceptance and equality on our campus, as well as in the San Antonio area, and provide awareness of the issues that LGBT people go through. SDA is a safe, inclusive place for all of our LGBT students, faculty, and allies, in addition to being leaders and activists for the cause.
This event is so important because of its many layers and meanings that are not apparent at first glance. Being silent forces us to emulate all of our friends, and fellow students who have been ostracized, bullied, or have felt insecure about themselves because of their intolerant, or insensitive school climates. Participating in Day of Silence yourself, or seeing others participate, also shows the impact that being silent, or not speaking up, about someone getting bullied has for a school. Being silent is taking action, such like the concept of civil disobedience exemplified by Dr. Martin Luther King, and Mahatma Gandhi. Today April 19th from 9 a.m. to noon near the fountain, you can join the SDA and others in the silence and stand up to bullying. Even if you cannot be silent today, it is still very influential to become aware of these issues, and recognize that we can all improve the statistics through our own personal behaviors and actions on a daily basis.
From the Day of Silence we can learn to speak up for ourselves, and others, when we see or hear harassment and intolerance being directed towards someone. We can all foster a more accepting and comfortable environment for everyone to be a part of, by trying to be more inclusive in our speech and actions, and keeping in mind other people’s feelings and struggles. If you or anyone you know has been harassed or bullied and needs help, Counseling Services is always a great resource on campus to utilize.
Sydney Wright is a first year and president elect of the sexual diversity alliance.