McDowell GSA’s Day of Silence informs students about discrimination, bullying and harassment
National Day of Silence is a day during which students stay silent to show support for those who are forced into silence because of discrimination, bullying, harassment or any other reason.
This year, National Day of Silence was celebrated on April 21, but since McDowell High School had spring break that week, the school’s Gay Straight Alliance club (GSA) decided to celebrate it on April 27.
The first Day of Silence was organized in 1996 at the University of Virginia by 150 participating students, and it eventually spread to nearly 100 colleges. Today, there are thousands of schools participating in Day of Silence, and there is now even an organization encouraging others to participate in Day of Silence and get involved in similar activities. This organization is called Gay Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN).
GSA encourages students to take action on National Day of Silence by either staying silent throughout the school day or wearing red in support.
This year was my first time participating in an activity to support others. I was worried about participating due to possible judgement from my peers. In the end, I decided to go for it because I, too, have been forced into silence, and to see the LGBT community discriminated against because of their sexuality isn’t right. I don’t usually tell people about my silence but today I will I realize that I can’t just sit back and let this happen can’t need to do something about it. I was bullied since the first day I started school all the way until middle school, though by then I stopped caring. Through those years of bullying, I ended up staying silent. I refused to participate in class, sat alone on the bus, and never played with anyone at recess or even played at all at recess. I often sat on a bench wondering why people hate me. I felt that if I made any move or played any game that I would be judged. I want to support the people who are silent due to any type of discrimination and stand together against the people who put others into silence.
To watch people I love face discrimination and to experience discrimination myself, made me confident in showing others that we need to be above discrimination. Intolerance can lead to silence. We should support the people who are forced to become silent.
People shouldn’t be judged, and I feel my participation in Day of Silence was a success because I was able to show others that people’s feelings matter. Together we can break the silence that has been keeping people captive.
During my experience, it was very hard to stay quiet. I wanted to speak up and tell someone that I wasn’t okay and that my silence was depressing and difficult to go through. Going through that silence reminded me of my childhood. I will never forget the feeling of silence and judgement that I had gone through for most my life, and I hope no one will ever have to experience the pain I had gone through ever again.
Though I managed to stay quiet the entire day, I still cried on occasions because the pain of remembering was just too much to bear.
My teachers helped me out so I didn’t feel too down and were really supportive which made me happy. They let me not participate in answering questions, and when I cried, they let me take a moment outside the class to calm myself down. They helped tell students who tried to talk to me that I wasn’t allowed to speak. I even heard a few students voicing their opinion on Day of Silence in a positive way.
I felt proud that people were becoming more aware of Day of Silence. Though we couldn’t speak, we still spread the message of Day of Silence around the school. Several students were now understanding of the meaning behind Day of Silence because I wrote a note in advance explaining that I was participating and what Day of Silence truly is. Even without the note, other students who knew about Day of Silence explained to others what it is and why I was participating.
I never thought I would last an entire school day being silent, but it wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be. I spread the message around to other students and even showed my own personal support. It made me happy to support others in this cause.
I witnessed around five people who stayed silent as well and about 10-15 others who were considering staying silent. Not everyone can stay silent, and I respect people those who are unable to because I recognize the challenges. Along with the entire GSA club’s participation, though there were more students supporting rather than participating. Even if there were more supporters than participants, I still feel as though we showed people that this is an important day that needs to be recognized for those students who are forced into silence.
Anyone interested in participating in Day of Silence can watch for information next year. The next GSA sponsored event in support of LGBT rights will be a trip to the Gay Pride Parade in Pittsburgh on June 11. The parade includes events such as a 5k Fun Run, outdoor concerts, the Big Gay Picnic and more. This spirited event sets the bar high for other pride celebrations around the country. The GSA club will be taking multiple vans to the event and anyone interested can contact Mrs. Wittmershaus in room 129 at McDowell Senior High School.