by Maya J '16

BSGE’s Silent Vow

On April 20th, 2012, some BSGE students participated in the Day of Silence, a silent protest against LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered) name-calling and harassment, particularly in school. The silence copied the silence LGBT teenagers must face every day because they aren’t accepted for who they are. The Day of Silence takes place every year in many schools across the nation, and is organized by the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN).
Students were not required to take part in the event, but those who did signed up to be either silent or supporting. A supporting student wore a placard stating that he or she supports the cause, but was allowed to speak during the school day.
Students who took a vow of silence remained silent throughout the entire school day, from 8:00 am to 2:15 pm. This “silence” included hand gestures, texting, passing notes, and communicating in any other way.             Silent students were not called on by teachers or asked to speak in front of the class, but continued to take notes and work independently as they usually would.
At BSGE, the Day of Silence is arranged by the Helping Hands Day of Silence Committee. “The hardest part is getting people to take it seriously. Last year, no one did. We have to show people that it’s an important issue, not just a reason to goof off in class,” explained Grace Camia ’15. Nahin Ferdousi ’15 added, “Nowadays there is still discrimination against lesbians, gays and bisexuals. They’re just like us. This day is for putting us in their shoes, and feeling what it’s like to not communicate for a day.”
This is an issue many feel strongly about. Isabella Hernandez ’14 is focusing on LGBT issues for her personal project, and was involved with the Day of Silence planning process. “I’m tired of hearing slurs. Even if someone says, ‘that’s gay,’ it’s affecting someone’s life,” she said. “This day is to educate and inform people about this. We don’t have to agree with people, but we have to accept them for who they are. Who cares who someone likes? A person’s sexual orientation is no one’s business.”
Most agreed and participated for similar reasons. However, despite their belief in the cause, many students expressed the challenges they faced while staying silent. “There were people who were supposed to be silent talking to me, so I found it hard to stay silent,” said Carolyn Wang ’16. Alisa Mizukami ’16 added, “Yoga class made everyone talk the most.” Participating students were frustrated at others who tried to aggravate them. “Some people were trying to provoke people who were silent, and I think that’s rude and disrespectful to the cause,” explained Beatriz Benares ’16.
Some students, however, dislike the idea of having a Day of Silence at all. One student in particular, who would prefer to remain anonymous, was eager to share his opinion. “What would it be like for them to see us trying to act like they’re acting? You think that would make them feel any better about themselves? We should do something fun, like wearing purple,” he suggested. “I find the Day of Silence kind of depressing. It’s also damaging to school classes.”
Nationally, there is greater controversy than there is at BSGE over the Day of Silence. Some religious organizations like Focus on the Family are against having the Day of Silence. There is an annual counter-event held on the same day called the Day of Dialogue, which is for “encouraging honest and respectful conversation among students about God’s design for sexuality.” Although within the BSGE community, LGBT rights are widely accepted, this is not the case in many other schools.
Classes on April 20th were conducted a little differently than usual. Most teachers were careful not to disrupt the students’ vows of silence.
The silence was broken at 2:15 pm in the cafeteria, during a small ceremony where students were encouraged to share their thoughts on the cause and what their experience was like. The Day of Silence Committee concluded that their work paid off, and that this Day of Silence was even better than last year. Students hope that this yearly tradition will exist in BSGE for many more years.

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