Imagine visiting your doctor’s office because you are ill, but not being able to receive a diagnosis. Going to court, but your lawyer on this day will not defend you. Why are they silent, you ask? It’s an act of protest.
The Day of Silence (this year on Friday, April 15th) is a day of action for students all across the country to call attention to the silenced voices of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth, specifically when faced with bullying and harassment in their schools. Thousands of LGBT students and their allies participate in a variety of ways, ultimately using silence as a tool to create awareness. Calling attention to the number of supporters is hugely important—according to the National School Climate Survey conducted by the Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network, more than three out of five LGBT middle and high school students feel unsafe at school because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, and nearly 85% were verbally harassed and 40% were physically harassed due to their sexual identity. Their silence is a result.
While many LGBT adults who are able to fully express themselves continue to experience harassment, other major barriers come into play through issues such as marriage, adoption, healthcare equity, gender identity recognition, and generally being considered “lesser than.” Students participating in the Day of Silence send a strong message to their schools that intolerance affects us all, gay and straight. But what if we took those messages into our workplaces, being silent for all of the discrimination we and those we know continue to face? You could go through you day as usual, but do not speak. Instead, give anyone who interacts with you a card explaining your silence. Words have a lot of power in our society, but the lack of words can have an even more profound effect. It could change the face of LGBT rights in Baltimore, the state, and the country, and has the ability to affect businesses and organizations at every level in every sector. So if you dare, stand silent on Friday April 15th. The implications could really be powerful.
If you are interested in joining a group of adults and youth in public silence on Friday organized by GLSEN-Baltimore, feel free to join us.