By: Jason Chen
On April 20, 2012, MSJ and Gay Straight Alliance collaborated to host the annual Day of Silence to raise awareness about bullying and harassment. Throughout the day, students across campus took a vow of silence to echo the silencing effects of anti-LGBTQ bullying and harassment.
The Day of Silence is a nationwide event in which students in middle schools, high schools and colleges take a vow of silence to spotlight the silencing effect of anti-LGBTQ bullying and harassment in schools. Many students have heard of instances where young people attempt or commit suicide due to the effects of bullying. However, they are usually not emotionally impacted by these deaths. The Day of Silence honors and remembers the students who do not have a voice when it comes to bullying.
The event first started in 1996 when students at the University of Virginia organized the first Day of Silence in response to a class assignment on non-violent protests. After GLSEN became the official sponsor in 2001, the event has since grown to include thousands of schools in the United States and worldwide. MSJ and Gay Straight Alliance implemented the Day of Silence so our school can further reach the goal of making the social environment at MSJ more accepting and aware of LGBTQ concerns.
The Day of Silence benefits every bullying and harassment victim nationwide. Student participation casts light on victims that are harassed on the basis of being gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer, and LGBTQ. Event sponsor GLSEN hopes that by participation in the Day of Silence, students realize that when it comes to harassment, all students need to be treated with respect and feel safe. MSJ feels that with increased awareness about these issues, the campus can eventually be free of harassment and bullying.
Rampant student and staff participation made the Day of Silence a resounding success. According to Gay Straight Alliance President Zarrie Samiezade-Yazd, the event is a success “if just one participant silence alarms and causes interest in just one other student.” In the United States, schools have come a long way securing the rights and safety of the LGBTQ community. However, there are still many people that we need to spread the message to. When people start thinking about how they can stop bullying, progress is made.
Gay Straight Alliance and MSJ hope that the student body gets the message that nobody should have their education hindered because they are gay or whatever else. Every student has a bright future ahead of them, and the hate and abuse that comes from bullying and harassment deviates them from their ultimate potential. Yazd said, “Participation in the Day of Silence is an eye-opening experience. By taking a vow of silence for one day, I give up my primary and most effective means of expression, but when I think about how many kids out there don’t have the choice to express their thoughts about who they are, I realize how simple of a sacrifice it is.”