Students from over 200 colleges, universities, and high schools from across the United States and Canada April 10 remained mute. These youth were participating in the Day of Silence, creating a visible, "audible" silence to protest the oppression forced upon on the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community.
DoSP was an intense and powerful experience for all who participated. According to Skippy, a student at Mills High School in California, "By participating in the Day of Silence, we learned the importance of communication and the ability to express ourselves. We drew parallels in our difficulties in communicating with each other about our plans, and the difficulties that "queer" people face in communicating with society at large. Sometimes with or without a voice it's impossible to speak, and often it's the words that can be heard that are the most important."
A student at Ames High School in Ames, IA, says, "Despite the overwhelming numbers of people who tried to engage us in conversation, anger us, or otherwise entice us to talk, we [the participants] were not demoralized, and remained speechless until 3:10 when we gathered in our gay/straight alliance's meeting room and broke the silence with a resounding scream." Even more encouraging were reports to hear that at least two teachers at Ames High School rewrote their lesson plans to accommodate DoSP.
As exciting it is to hear all the encouraging reactions from the community to the Day of Silence. We cannot ignore the fact that homophobia and hatred for LGBT people still runs rampant. Several schools reported widespread taunts of participants and people trying to goad participants into breaking their vow of silence. Some students at Ames High School even planned to protest against DoSP by wearing T-shirts reading "I am straight."
For Chloe Palenchar, Co-Chair of DoSP, these actions against only confirm the need for advocacy efforts like DoSP on behalf of LGBT rights. Palenchar states "we are currently facing a time when the anti-gay movement is growing in strength, numbers, and violence, as shown by the verbal attacks on DoSP participants and anti-DoSP organizing. DoSP provides participants to fight back at the anti-gay movement with much less destructive tactics."
In towns and cities across the nation, youth advocating against the oppression forced upon LGBTs made their presence felt, with over 200 schools participating. It is the hope of the DoSP team that the event will engender continuous dialogue and education around the very issues that make DoSP necessary. Then and only then can the silence be truly broken, and can DoSP be relegated to the status of a historical event.
Day of Silence Project is a non-profit, youth-run organization that helps high schools and colleges in the United States and Canada to organize a Day of Silence at their school. Day of Silence Project aims to recognize and combat the silencing of the GLBT community throughout history and today.