You may have noticed halls with signs that read “Vikings Don’t Tolerate Hate” and “Day of Silence” on them. Well “Day of Silence” is officially recognized in many schools on April 17th and is hosted by/through GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian, & Straight Education Network) as a backbone of support. The day originates from a 1996 University of Virginia response to a class assignment on non-violent protests, and during 1997 the day garnered national attention. By 2001, “Day of Silence” was adopted by GLSEN, and is now internationally recognized. It now helps bring attention to those who suffer in silence on a worldwide scale.
On this day, student led clubs like Gay Straight Alliances help rally together with students and staff to create a space where we recognize and help people stand in solidarity with those who have suffered in silence due to bullying, and other forms of abuse. Day of Silence is meant to help raise awareness on the bullying LGBTQ+ youth experience by having participants of the activity, vow to be silent throughout the day, and stand in solidarity of those who have truly gone silent because of bullying against their sexuality, gender expression, or even just because they’re plainly different than everybody else.
Rainier Beach High School started its first Day of SIlence last year.This year was the second time our school participated in it. The impact it had upon students and staff was incredible. As your local GSA president and “out“ student, it shows that our school regardless of different views and the stereotypes we face as a community, actually can come together and stand in solidarity with a minority group that’s facing oppression in our school. RBHS GSA last year also surveyed classes with a local health survey, and within the survey we asked students if they identify as “straight”, and 10% or about 65 students said that they don’t identify that way. Our school contains more LGBTQ+ members than what we would think, and maybe the number might fluctuate higher or lower, in numbers this year. This activity that had such an impact on me, can also impact a lot of the other students that might not have the courage to fully come out yet.
Last year, our school commemorated those who suffered in silence by wearing tye-dye shirts with “Day of Silence” on them, to garner attention and awareness on the day we’re celebrating, as well as placing tape or covers over their mouths as a more obvious and blatant statement. Throughout the day, students (and some staff members) participate in their regular routines, but in complete silence until the end of the day, where all DoS participants, rally in the courtyard to “break the silence” with using any type of item to make loud noises and screams to end the day out.
This year on May 20th, RBHS GSA to helped organized another Day of Silence, but we want to subtly breakaway from the GLSEN perspective, and attempt a new one. We recognize that bullying of many kinds are happening inside and outside of our school whether we like it or not, and we want to make that known. So we dedicate this day to not only recognize those who suffered in silence due to sexual orientation and gender expression, but also because of sexual and domestic abuse, verbal and relational abuse, and even cyber bullying (due to the 90% increase in social media usage since 2005 according to .. pewinternet.org). Our students face lots of adversities and bullying forms that you and i might not notice, or even care to recognize. Let’s change that by continuing to show that we do care, and we’re doing what it takes to help out each other, and become a model community for others.
You can show you care by supporting RBHS GSA, our Day of Silence, and show you support and recognize all the adversities we all face, and make a difference by doing something about it. Some things you can do to support is to start attending GSA to gain some background and inside information about what we are planning. Show up our DoS booth in front of the cafeteria, grab a tee shirt or a bandana, and some tape and other gear to prepare. Spread the word about DoS. And bring something to help break the silence at the end of the day.
Remember that Vikings don’t tolerate hate, and it’s our duty to stand in solidarity with those who’ve been bullied in silence.