Joe Colajezzi and Lillian Kalish
A&E Editor and Staff Writer
Across the nation this year, April 20 is known not only as a day of recreational drug use, but also as GLSEN (Gay and Lesbian Straight Education Network)’s Day of Silence. Day of Silence is a yearly day-long event where participants of all sexual orientations vow to abstain from talking in solidarity with victims of bullying and abuse based on sexual orientation or gender identification.
It is a form of silent protest that has been active in schools since the late nineties. But what some participants may have failed to realize is that, despite its display of support for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning/Queer (LGBTQ) community, one day of silent protest most likely won’t bring about a signficiant amount of change; it hardly even educates people.
This year, many Samo participants we knew were uninformed about the issue, and latched on because their peers were doing it. The fact that it was a silent protest was not effective.
While staying silent did draw attention, it was just as easy to ignore the participants when they were silent. To truly make a point, protestors should have either opted to stay silent for a longer period of time, which would have made a discussion imperative, or vocalized their opinions right off the bat.
Staying silent did not educate those who needed to learn about the LGTBQ community—rather it allowed those who ignored these issues to stay ignorant.
Someone who needed to be educated about the LGBTQ community and daily struggles they and their supporters face, should have been taught vocally and with communication from both sides, not just by reading the note cards students hold explaining the reason for thier silence.
Furthermore, instead of protesting, more students should participate in a discussion fueled event like Project Safe Zone. Open discussions are informative and more effective than cursorily reading a protester’s notecard.
It’s the time for the LGBTQ comunity and its allies to be loud, get noticed, and to dispel any negative ideas that may exist since there is often the stereotype that this community is weak or inferior.
While Day of Silence is symbolically meaningful, having participants stay silent to show their support of those without a voice, it is not the way these issues should be handled in schools. It is not that a day of silence in itself is a bad idea, but rather, that the means through which the message was transmitted was ineffective. In order to make change in schools and elsewhere students should talk openly about these issues instead of perpetuating the silence.