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Silence is Action: Gay Straight Alliance holds Day of Silence

Those+who+chose+to+take+the+challenge+to+remain+silent+gathered+in+the+Hamilton+Lobby+at+the+end+of+the+day+to+break+the+silence+together.+
Those who chose to take the challenge to remain silent gathered in the Hamilton Lobby at the end of the day to break the silence together.

Those who chose to take the challenge to remain silent gathered in the Hamilton Lobby at the end of the day to break the silence together.

Photo Credit: Patricia Whyte

Photo Credit: Patricia Whyte

Those who chose to take the challenge to remain silent gathered in the Hamilton Lobby at the end of the day to break the silence together.

by Patricia Whyte, Staff Writer

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Two of the top three reasons students said they were most often bullied at school were actual or perceived sexual orientation and gender expression, according to From Teasing to Torment: School Climate in America, a 2005 report by the Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network and Harris Interactive.

The Gay Straight Alliance held the annual Day of Silence on Friday, April 7 to acknowledge LGBTQ students who are silenced by harassment, intimidation, and bullying. The GLSEN 2013 National School Climate Survey found that nearly 9 out of 10 lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender students report verbal, sexual or physical harassment at school.

The Day of Silence is a national event that takes place in thousands of middle and high schools across the country in which students show solidarity with LGBT youth by remaining silent during the school day. The event is a way of to advocate awareness and draw attention to the issue, according to the GSA’s co-advisor Troy Kroft.

“It’s a way of advocating for not just LGBTQ youth, but to other at-risk youth in a way that we’re not speaking for them, we’re not speaking over them, not speaking about them, we’re just drawing attention to the issue,” Kroft said.

Students who chose to remain silent received a lanyard to wear throughout the day. Stickers were also given to students who wanted to show their support but not necessarily take the challenge to be silent.

The lanyards read:

Today I choose to remain silent to help END discrimination and hate towards the LGBTQIA community. Help silence hate so that people don’t have to keep silent about who they are. What will you do to end the silence?  

This is Kroft’s first year as co-adviser for the GSA, taking over for Dan Brodhead who retired last year. Nicole Rusin serves as the club’s other adviser, who took over for Phyllis Sneyers two years ago.

“I remember it the most was the first year it was run by Mr. Brodhead and Ms Sneyers, and I remember that when the GSA first took off, there was a push back from the school,” Rusin said. “The amount of kids I saw wearing stickers and lanyards that day made me realize just how supportive of a community this is.”

Over 100 students took the challenge to remain silent this year, including vice president of the GSA Camille Kaeslow (‘17).

“I feel like it’s a very prominent time for the GSA so it’s also very important because it’s showing that the GSA is such a thriving club,” Kaeslow said. According to Kaeslow, the main purpose of Day of Silence is to acknowledge the struggle of LGBT youth and demonstrate the prominence of  the community.

“It’s very important because we’re out here, and we exist,” Kaeslow said.

At the end of the day, students who participated in the Day of Silence and took the challenge to be silent gathered in the Hamilton lobby for a picture and to break the silence in unison.

“I thought that was really amazing,” Rusin said. “It always is heartwarming to see that every year and that feeling never gets old.”

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Silence is Action: Gay Straight Alliance holds Day of Silence