The National Annual Day of Silence

The Day of Silence is an annual event held in early April in which students around the nation do not speak for the entirety of the day to protest the harassment and silencing of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) students.

Members of the Dunbar Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA), as well as many non-members, participate in the event yearly.

“In being silent, it’s a way to show support and draw attention [to LGBT students]. They might be quiet about the issues they’re facing,” said GSA sponsor and English teacher Mrs. Amber Faris. “We have done it for 9 years now, and we invite all students who want to participate.”

The event first began in 1996 when Maria Pulzetti, along with 150 other students at the University of Virginia, wanted to show her support for the LGBT community. The event received much press coverage and Pulzetti was motivated to take it to the national level.

Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network (GLSEN)  became the official sponsor of the Day of Silence in 2001, and nearly 2000 schools participated in the event nationwide. The number has grown since then. In 2008, the Day of Silence was dedicated to the memory of Lawrence King who was killed by a fellow student for his sexual orientation.

“The Day of Silence may not seem terribly important, but in reality, the support is important,” said freshman GSA member Blake Johnson.

Many Dunbar teachers are in full support of these students who wish to be a part of the silent movement for change, and they are understanding for this event.

“I send out an email to teachers every year for Day of Silence awareness. We do things like sell T-shirts to raise money,” said Mrs. Faris.

Other teachers, such as English teacher Mrs. Cynthia Jones, plan for this day as well.

“They talk to me ahead of time, and I let them write down their answers,” said Mrs. Jones. “I’m sensitive to their concern on this issue.”

Participants in the Day of Silence pass out “Speaking Cards” with an explanation: “Please understand my reasons for not speaking today. I am participating in the Day of Silence. Think about the voices you are not hearing today.”

Although the Day of Silence doesn’t provide immediate results and changes, there is more and more support every year.

“Times are changing, but teens are still rejected by society,” said Johnson. “The Day of Silence helps prevent this rejection.”