Day of Silence not helping gay rights

Monica Reida/Staff Writer

It has always seemed to me that silence is not a good thing.
If you look back throughout American history, major milestones in human rights haven’t been made silently.

Women marched and protested during the suffrage movement to ensure the ability for women to vote. People frequently suffered from police brutality during the Civil Rights movement. In the 1960s, the Stonewall Riots involved a clash between gays at the Stonewall Inn and the New York Police that set off the Gay Rights Movement. If you want progress, it seems as though you have to make some noise.

Which is the perplexing problem of Day of Silence.

Day of Silence is held every year in schools across the nation and involves gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered students and their allies staying silent for the entire day to raise awareness of the bullying students suffer.

Coincidentally, Harvey Milk famously said in 1978 that “Hope cannot be silent.”

How is staying silent for a day going to give hope for the end of bullying for GLBT students?
The harassment of GLBT students has to end with the administrators and teachers of schools stepping up and doing something. Either they need to do something, or the bullied students need to be stepping up.

Which might not be that bad of a thing. If those that have to endure the taunting of their classmates stand up and tell them, “Hey, this isn’t OK,” it might catch them off guard. And if there is violent reaction, a blind eye turned by the administrators to such an event would be wrong, especially with the statewide anti-bullying laws in Iowa that include sexual orientation and gender identity.

The main problem with Day of Silence is that it doesn’t seem to be that effective. The amount of students that do participate in the event in schools across the nation is probably not a majority of the students. If only a handful of people are protesting something, people aren’t going to notice.

And then there is the problem with staying silent. Students can’t reprimand them because they’re supposed to stay silent, and knowing the ignorance of some students, they’ll assume that all of the students participating are gay, even though a majority—at least as I’ve observed—seem to be allies.

The gay rights movement can’t accomplish anything by being overly passive, in this case being silent. Did the Stonewall Riots occur silently? No. Was Proposition 6 defeated in 1978 by silence? No. Did Larry Kramer become known as “America’s Angriest AIDS Activist” because he stood in a corner and pouted silently? No.

In order for anything to happen in any sort of movement for rights, you have to make noise.
As for those that insist on bullying students by yelling homophobic slurs that cannot be printed, you are cowards. There is nothing more cowardly in this world than being demeaning to someone because they are comfortable with who they are or what they believe. It does not make you look macho or tough, but insecure and weak.

We still have a long ways to go before America is completely safe for gays. But we can at least make a giant step by making some noise to bring an end to school bullying.
Don’t stay silent; speak out.




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