June 18, 2013

Francesca Huttle: My Days of Silence

Over the past 4 years attending my high school in the suburbs of New Jersey, I have seen many students and faculty members participate in the Day of Silence. To be honest, when I was in middle school, and even high school, I believed students used this day to just get out of participating in a class that they did not like, but as I learned more about this day, I realized silence signified something so powerful.

In my school, every year a week before the Day of Silence, high school students visit middle school classes to discuss LGBT issues, bullying, and the day of silence itself. This day is called The Day of Acceptance. This past Thursday, I decided to participate in this event, and the response I received from the 8th grade class could not have been more positive.  We discussed what it would feel like keeping one’s identity a secret, and we also discussed how to not be a bystander when bullying happens, but an up-stander. The ideas and comments that were coming from these 8th graders were so mature and supportive. Because this class was so responsive, we went on to discuss the Day of Silence. I was happy to find out that the middle school already knew about this day and what it meant, and I was also happy to learn that acceptance and maturity about the topic of sexuality has increased since the time I was in middle school, which was not even so long ago.

Although there are not many out students at my school, there are many straight allies, like myself, that are willing to advocate for those voices that could not be heard today. Overall, I think that only good can come out of the Day of Silence. Each year I see more students participating, more students becoming aware of LGBT issues, and more students showing their support. The enthusiasm is spreading, and this year will be my first year participating in the Day of Silence. I have always thought about doing so, and although I am already a senior at my school, it is better late than never.

As a high school senior, I look back on the times at my school, and I am so proud that so many people stay silent throughout this day to signify the silence that many people in the LGBT community, especially teens in high school,  are subjected to because of their sexual orientation. Even though I see some students begin to talk toward the end of the day, it just shows how hard it is to be silent. I have spoken to students and faculty about their silence and they all say how difficult it is to not express themselves for just one day. That one day of silence can signify a lifetime in the eyes of someone who is closeted, bullied, or a part of the LGBT community. One day is definitely not too much to ask because just one day of being silent can help and support others around the world to find their voice to speak up.

Christoph Sawyer

About Christoph Sawyer

GLSEN National: Communications Intern Summer 2013

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