Silence that Speaks

Across campus on Apr. 17, it was hard to ignore the multitude of students with duct tape wrapped around their mouths. As students and staff tried their best to communicate with the participants, everyone soon realized that it was more than a fashion statement or a “no talking” day.  It was the Day of Silence, a day that spread awareness about the harassment of LGBT people. Each piece of duct tape, disregarding the size, color or length, conveyed the same message: silence represents a louder voice than just talking.

Started 19 years ago at the University of Virginia, the Day of Silence was intended to spread awareness and take action about the harassment and bullying of LGBT (Lesbian Gay Bisexual  Transgender) people.

Now this event has taken place in thousands of schools across the nation, including here, where it is hosted by the GSA (Gender Sexuality Alliance) club.

“It is hosted every year by the Gender Sexuality Alliance, and it is an impactful event that represents people who don’t have voices, so that’s why we have it here,” stated junior Kyle Doan, current GSA club president.

Participating in this event calls for students to take on a form of silence, using methods such as duct taping mouths. The participants’ silence recreates the silencing effect that is imposed on LGBT victims by their harassers and bullies.

Unlike other forms of action and change taken by clubs or organizations, the Day of Silence uses silence as a way to spread and convey its key and important message, which makes it distinctively unique from other events.

“This has definitely been one of our biggest years so far,” said GSA vice president, junior Rachel Laventure, when asked about this year’s outcome.

While talk of LGBT rights has become more and more popular, the Day of Silence definitely attracted more participants in the past few years. There is a growing amount of participants, and each participant that joins the cause makes the message stronger and louder so it can be heard by everyone. This event never ceases to impact and change participants in the way they see the important issue of anti-LGBT bullying and harassment, which also contributes to the growing amount of participants.

Sophomore Aira Camille Samontina was one of the many participants that gained new insight into the important issue of anti-LGBT bullying and harassment.

“It’s really given me a perspective on how the LGBT community has to live,” she said. “They’ve had to hide who they are from people that aren’t accepting.”

As the name suggests, there are also perks to participating in this event. While most take their freedom of speech for granted, many victims are unable to express themselves while being harassed and bullied by their suppressors. Having their freedom to speak “taken away”, participants often resort to other complicated ways to express themselves, such as sign language or writing messages on paper.

Freshman Natalie Man stated that participating in the Day of Silence made her realize that not talking was probably the hardest thing in her life.

“I felt confined and then I felt alone, which wasn’t good feeling,” she added, relating to the many victims affected each year by anti-LGBT harassment and bullying

Likewise, freshman Ansh Roge expressed identical feelings.

“It was difficult expressing my ideas because I couldn’t talk but had big thoughts I wanted to express,” he mentioned.

Roge also thought that participating in this event was worth the seven hours of silence.

“I felt like I was spreading awareness to society. I felt like I was a part of the huge problem and with more participation, LGBT rights can rule just as easy as straight relationships,” he added.

Like Roge, many participants buzzed in and about the Commons at the celebration after school, stating that participating in the event was worth it.

Sophomore Flola Tam stated that if she hadn’t participated in this event, she would have felt as if she wasn’t supporting her friends.

Other participants were happy and elated to have their freedom of speech back, after going through the day without using their voice. Unfortunately, most victims can’t take their rights back like this, but people can shed light on this issue to hopefully result in the return of the victim’s rights one day.

Meanwhile, Doan is optimistic about next year’s outcome for the Day of Silence event.

“Next year’s event is definitely going to be bigger than this year’s and it is not going to stop,” he stated.