I'm Not Speaking Today
By Christina, age 16, Louisiana
Sweet Designs Featured Writer
"GLSEN's (Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network) 2005 National School Climate Survey found that more than 64% of LGBT students report verbal, sexual, or physical harassment at school, and 29% report missing at least a day of school in the past month out of fear for their personal safety. The Day of Silence is one way students and their allies are making anti-LGBT bullying, harassment and name-calling unacceptable in America's schools."
The moment I walked side by side with my friend into my school, I felt like a warrior. I felt like all eyes were on us, and somehow they knew our intentions (or lack thereof), and at any moment they would strike. The feeling increased as I approached other participants in the Day of Silence. Knowing smiles crossed the moment our eyes met.
Throughout the day the silence continued, but only in small doses. A few of the students said nothing, while most of the students played it as if it were a game, teasing the ones who participated with hopes of getting them to speak. Some participants uttered not a word, while others only remained speechless for an hour or so. I never realized how much I truly wanted to scream. My mouth remained closed all day though, except for music rehearsal, and I knew this was because my cause was great -- the reasoning behind my closed lips meant so much to me that it was my fuel. Discrimination, at one point or another, would have to come to an end.
On April 18, 2007, many across the world participated in a widely known yet esoteric annual event known as the Day of Silence. In its eleventh year, the Day of Silence has been a successful and efficient way to echo the silence faced by gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender students every day in schools all across our nation. Held to bring attention to anti-GLBT bullying, harassment and discrimination in those schools, the Day of Silence is also one of the largest student-led events in America.
The Day of Silence was originally created in 1996 at Virginia University, with over 150 students participating. Receiving a good amount of press and a pleasing response from UVA community members, Maria Pulzetti decided to take it national, and later 19 year old Jessie Gilliam developed the project as one that would be used in schools all across the country. Later named the National Day of Silence, nearly 100 colleges and universities participated in the year 1997 alone.
In 1998, high schools joined the movement, doubling participation to more than 200 schools. From 1999 to 2001 that number doubled. In 2002, the movement received more national attention than ever with over 100,000 students taking action in a visible silence across the country.
"Please understand my reasons for not speaking today. I am participating in the Day of Silence, a national youth movement protesting the silence faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and their allies. My deliberate silence echoes that silence, which is caused by harassment, prejudice, and discrimination. I believe that ending the silence is the first step toward fighting these injustices. Think about the voices you are not hearing today. What are you going to do to end the silence?"