The Day of Silence is not only a day for LGBTQ individuals, but also a day for those who stand by their side. Today, April 21st, is the 22nd year that the Day of Silence has been celebrated. This day marks anti-LGBTQ prejudice and shines a light on how a fear of harassment and abuse can make those within a community feel as though they do not have a voice. Let’s put an end to the silence, not only as a school but as a nation.
Landon Kerouac, president of the Alliance club, sat down with me and helped me better understand what this day really stands for.
“A lot of people think the Day of Silence is about addressing an issue, but it’s really about understanding the issue. You’re being put in the position of LGBTQ kids our age that feel that they can’t speak up about who they are because of the society surrounding them.”
A lot of individuals in Lake Forest High School identify as an LGBTQ member. This day allows those who do not identify as LGBT or Q to stand in the shoes of those who do. It’s all about awareness and helping students and faculty understand that there is a bigger issue that is being ignored. Anyone can take part in the silence; whether you recognize yourself as LGBTQ or consider yourself straight. In fact, the majority of the students who take part in the silence are allies.
“You don’t have to go to alliance meetings or be active in the gay rights community to take part in this event. This day is all about helping people experience how LGBTQ kids feel.”
The Day of Silence is an event in which those who participate choose not to speak for the day–thus the silence. However, the silence is on your own terms. Whether you chose not to speak in the morning, afternoon, night, or the whole day, it’s not a competition. The silence you take part in is symbolic for the silence that LGBTQ individuals experience on a daily basis. It’s all about bringing awareness to the issue.
“If you break the silence it isn’t as if you lose or cannot keep going; you can be silent as much or as little as you want. Never feel like you can’t do it because it’s too difficult or because you aren’t LGBTQ because anyone can do it and it’s really fun.“
Though the Day of Silence is a day of noiselessness, our high school likes to do things a little differently. At the end of the day, all the students that took part in the Day of Silence gather on the front lawn of the school. There, they all gather and stand together–side by side. When the time is right, all the students scream and release the voices that they have been holding in; they break the silence.
“We end the silence. It’s metaphorical for the threshold between the silence and acceptance.”
The goal of the Day of Silence is to make schools safer for all students regardless of their sexual orientation and gender expression. Nearly 9 out of 10 LGBTQ students experience some form of harassment at school. The Day of Silence is a positive educational experience and it lets these students know that they do not stand alone. No one should ever feel as though they do not have a voice, so take a vow of silence in an effort to encourage our school and our classmates to address the issue of anti-LGBTQ behaviors by exemplifying the silencing effect of bullying on LGBTQ students.