Members of the West Henderson Bluestockings organization are encouraging students to participate in the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN) National Day of Silence April 17. The protest encourages students of all backgrounds to take a form of silence to call attention to the silencing effect of anti-L.G.B.T. bullying and harassment in schools.
“I think it’s good to be aware of the effects bullying has on other students,” Bluestockings member Amy Reisman said. “People can really get hurt no matter what they are being bullied for.”
The first Day of Silence was observed at the University of Virginia in 1996. Since then, it has become the largest single student-led action toward creating safer schools for all, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.
Those participating in the Day of Silence are given cards to give people who try to talk to them. These cards state why the participant is not speaking that day. But according to GLSEN, this does not give students the right to not answer direct questions when a teachers asks. Although she will not remain silent for the day, social studies teacher and Bluestockings sponsor sponsor Angela Perry supports the students who choose to remain silent.
“Whereas bullying has been addressed for many students on campuses of both public and private schools, there is one area where bullying seems to be acceptable. It’s acceptable to bully people who identify as a different sexuality, i.e. L.G.B.T.Q+,” Perry said. “The Bluestockings members decided to participate in the Day of Silence to support students at West Henderson and around the country snd world who feel marginalized due to their sexual orientation or identity.”
According to GLSEN, approximately nine out of every 10 L.G.B.T students are victims of some sort of harassment or bullying. GLSEN also reported that 64 percent of LBGT students felt unsafe at school because of sexual orientation and 44 percent felt unsafe at school due to gender identification.
“I fully support the students who choose to do this, and I think it’s important that we know that bullying doesn’t just occur because someone is not wearing the right clothes or driving the right car,” Perry said. “Bullying is prevalent in our society, especially against the L.G.B.T.Q+ community.”
By Ari Sen and MaryKent Wolff