By Anna Gao,
Day of Silence is a widespread demonstration that students across the nation participate in to raise awareness about the silencing effects of discrimination that LGBT students deal with. The Davis High Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) is organizing the event at DHS, which will take place on April 15.
“It’s nice to see a bunch of students come together to do something a little different to support the LGBT community,” senior GSA president Joey Tan said.
Junior Ava Falkenstrom, the public relations coordinator of GSA, is one of the participants this year.
“A lot of people in the LGBT community are silenced in that they have to hide their sexualities or not talk about it or are bullied because of it,” she said. “Day of Silence is about showing the community that the LGBT community stands together and strong. We have a voice even without words.”
Sophomore Chloe Bolanos, the vice president of GSA, explained her reasons for participating: “I want to speak for people who are like me and don’t have a voice.”
Many of the members of GSA believe that much of the student body is still unclear about the Day of Silence.
“I think a lot of people think that Day of Silence is just like a tumblr thing but it’s like actually a real [demonstration],” Bolanos said.
The first Day of Silence was organized by students at University of Virginia in 1996. The event is sponsored by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, an organization dedicated to ensure the safety of all students since 2001.
Today, more than 10,000 students register their participation each year, according to GLYSEN.
However, not all participants do so for the right reasons.
“I heard about a lot of people last year who used it to just not talk in class. They didn’t really get what it was about or they didn’t really care. So that’s not a good thing to do,” Falkenstrom said.
However, if a teacher asks students to participate in class, the students must comply even if they have taken the pledge of silence.
“Most teachers are pretty good about letting you stay silent the whole day but if you are compelled in class to talk, you have to,” Falkenstrom said.
GSA adviser William Wheeler sent emails to all staff members explaining the event, and encourages teachers to talk about it in class.
“[Some teachers in the past] have used it as a teachable moment and have talked with all their classes about what the Day of Silence is,” Wheeler said.
Tan believes that many have a hard time understanding why silence is used to prevent the silence of LGBT students.
“The majority of people don’t experience the silencing effects that harassment and bullying have. Using this day to experience what it’s like is pretty eye-opening,” Tan explained.
“Day of Silence is an easy way to get visibility; you really stand out when you’re silent for a day,” GSA secretary and sophomore Rocket Drew elaborated. “The more people who participate, the more of a statement it makes and the stronger stance we take on these issues.”
There will be a booth in the quad during lunch April 11-14 at which students can learn about and register for the Day of Silence, and get stickers, temporary tattoos and speaking cards that explain the event.
On April 15, there will be a silent lunch for students in room L-20.
“People can participate for as long or short as they want. They can sign up to be silent for a period or for the whole day. It’s just really about helping others,” Bolanos said.
Falkenstrom agreed: “Doing part of the day is better than doing nothing. Take the pledge!”