The Power of Silence

The Power of Silence

Baylee Wicken, Staff Writer

Absolute Silence.

For some, silence is boring. However, for allies and LGBT+ students across the country, April 15 was a day of peaceful protest. 

According to the Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network (GLSEN), the Day of Silence is a student led, national, movement to stop the anti-LGBT+ harassment that students across the country face everyday.

The Day of Silence was founded by students at the University of Virginia in 1996, with one hundred and fifty people participating. In 1997, it became a national event, with approximately one hundred colleges and universities participating.  GLSEN became the official sponsor of the Day of Silence in 2001.

NFA’s Gay-Straight-Alliance(GSA) adviser, Beth Serra, organized the school’s Day of Silence. “Further awareness of all students and their individual characteristics is always important.  With everything happening in the country right now in relation to gay marriage, transgender bathroom use, refusal of services to the LGBT+ community, I think bringing awareness to the fact that there is still discrimination and harassment in the community is important,” says Serra.  

Tenth grader Katie Robbins, the GSA secretary and a first year club member, agrees. “I hope that it makes kids and staff less ignorant [of the LGBT+ community]. I hope the students and faculty have learned that we aren’t a silly group that gets together just for fun. I hope they realize that we, as people of the LGBT+ community, work very hard for recognition and validation and acceptance.”

Serra encourages all students to band together and support their peers in the next Day of Silence. “It’s not just about participating if you are part of the LGBT+ community.  The best way to raise awareness and support is to be all inclusive.  Having people of all orientations standing together is powerful.”

GSA members felt empowered by the Day of Silence, and hope for further participation in the future. Club member and tenth grader Tessa-Lyn Whitaker says, “The Day of Silence is a day of awareness for those who are LGBT+ and are forced into silence. Either they have passed away, or are still here, but [they] are suffering and need our help. Us being deliberately silent echos their silence. It shows our support.”

Gay-Straight Alliances across the country participated in this day of awareness; however, this event is available to anyone who wishes to participate. NFA students were required to get a permission slip signed to participate, and were expected to participate in class discussion if it was required by their teachers. Teachers were tolerant and understanding, and generally allowed their students to remain silent.

Robbins believes, “I would absolutely encourage non-LGBT+ members to participate [in the Day of Silence]. The more allies, the better. We still are considered a minority group, both on campus and in the world; we need as many people on our side supporting us.”

Serra feels that NFA students and staff are becoming more accepting of the LGBT+ community both on and off campus. “This was evidenced by the non-GSA students who approached the advisers about participating.  As long as they returned their slips, they were included.”

Whitaker says, “I’m hoping that we impact students with the Day of Silence in a way that they become more sensitive with the subject [of oppression], and more accepting to the GSA group and LGBT community.”

Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” The Day of Silence participants hope that everyone will remember their silence, and that others will try to prevent the silencing of the LGBT+ community in the future.