On April 11, 2014, the CGHS GSA will be organizing a Day of Silence, a national day for raising awareness of anti-LGBT name-calling, bullying, and harassment in all schools. Students can take a vow of silence to draw attention to the pain and suffering of many students and pledge to fight anti-LGBT behavior. The student-led action is intended to “break the silence” that LGBT people face on a daily basis and, by showing that harassment in any form is unacceptable, make the school a safer place for all students.
Now led by GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian, & Straight Education Network), this event started in April of 1996 at the University of Virginia with 150 students participating in this non-violent protest. It is now held in schools and colleges across the nation with thousands of students of all sexual orientations and backgrounds promising to break the silence.
“Day of Silence is just a title, speak up for those who are afraid to. You will make a huge difference. We are all human,” President of GSA, Lorane Cruz, said.
Students who wish to participate can wear white to represent hope and life, and to show that regardless of hate, good prevails. On Friday, students can vow to remain silent in the halls and at lunch. This will be done to represent the people who are silenced due to bullying and harassment, and to remember those who can no longer speak for themselves because they have committed suicide. Teachers and faculty are encouraged to talk to their students about the Day of Silence, and discuss how to make the school safer for all students. GSA will also be selling blue bracelets with “Stand Up & Speak Up” for two dollars during both lunches in front of the new building.
Bullying and harassment can have overwhelming detrimental effects in entire schools. Nine out of ten students who identify themselves as LGBT have reported enduring verbal, sexual, or physical harassment. As a result, LGBT individuals are 22% more likely to drop out of school than their heterosexual peers. The effects of anti-LGBT attacks go beyond the social sphere, and the consequences of bulling easily impact the academic and extracurricular lives of students.
Still, the greatest tragedy to come out of bullying and harassment is teen suicide. LGBT youth are two to three times as likely to commit suicide or consider taking their lives. Suicide does not just hurt the victim, whose feelings of pain and isolation are heart-wrenching to imagine, but the people that knew and love them -family, friends, loved ones, and even teachers. It is difficult to imagine the isolation that would lead someone to take their own life, but it’s a harsh reality thousands of students across the world face daily. They leave this world feeling that there is no room for them and think that there are no other options. Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. Suicide is never an option. You are never alone. There are always people you can talk to. Bullying hurts everyone and the effects of a death can go far beyond a school campus.
“Suicide is never the answer. If you or anyone you know has experienced bullying and/or harassment and now have thoughts of suicide, please talk to a trusted adult or feel free to stop by room 3127 to talk in a safe space. You don’t have to deal with this by yourself,” said counselor, Mrs. Hernandez.
Day of Silence is a day to combat suicide and harassment by raising awareness of the plight that many LGBT students face. The goal of Day of Silence is to reach a point where no student is bullied or harassed, regardless of sexual orientation. Everyone is a unique individual who has the right to be respected and loved. Sometimes reaching out and asking, “are you OK?” can be the difference between life and another name on the obituary page. If you or anyone you know is going through a hard time, encourage them to speak out and find someone to talk to whether that be a family member, teacher, counselor, or friend. On Friday, spread the word that bullying and harassment in any form is wrong, and pledge to break the silence to make the school a safer place for all people.