Mon. Jan 17th, 2022

In a day of idle chatter and students running around in Banana suits, another group of West Chester University students decided to give up their voices for a day in order to raise awareness. On April 18, a small group of University students participated in the annual Day of Silence to protest the silence caused by harassment, prejudice and discrimination against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered individuals. The event, held every year on a Wednesday in April, is in its 11th year.

“Participating in the day seems natural since some of my closest friends are gay,” said first year student Sarah Gober, who participated in the event for the fifth time. “I think the Day of Silence is a powerful event.”

The Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education network estimated that 5,000 school and colleges will be participating in the event with an approximate 500,000 people of all sexual orientations taking a vow of silence.

Those participating handed out “speaking cards” stating “Please understand my reasons for not speaking today. I am participating in the Day of Silence, a national youth movement protesting the silence faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and their allies. My deliberate silence echoes that silence, which is caused by harassment, prejudice, and discrimination. I believe that ending the silence is the first step toward fighting these injustices. Think about the voices you are not hearing today.”

According to the Day of Silence website, 64 percent of the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered high school and college students have been harassed verbally, physically or sexually.

Since being founded in 1996 by a group of University of Virginia students, the Day of Silence has grown into the largest student coordinated action towards creating safer schools, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression, according to the website.

“Day of Silence is my way to acknowledge those LGBTQA students who are silent and have not come out because they are afraid of being discriminated,” said first year student David McMahon. McMahon, who is partaking in the event for the third year, also wore duct tape over his mouth in protest.The event also hopes to create support for students who are not openly gay to be able to find a comforting community so they are not afraid to be who they are, supporters discussed.

“Another major goal of this event is to make people realize that homophobia and discrimination in schools is what causes the silence,” continued McMahon. “It needs to stop.”

Some WCU students think the idea has too much pride involved.

A gay student, who asked to remain anonymous said, “Putting tape over your mouths, wearing ‘Day of Silence’ shirts, and handing out paraphernalia is drawing more negative attention to our entire community.” He continued that the event enforces negative stereotypes that people still have about the homosexual community.

Proponents disregarded negative ideas about this event.

“It gives voices to those who are oppressed by homophobia or any other social injustice,” added Gober.”

Despite how much advancement gay people have made in the world, equality is still an extremely distant objective, but with events like the Day of Silence, that goal doesn’t seem to be intangible.

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