The Day of Silence is a national movement for students to bring attention to the silencing of LGBTQ+ students by bullying or harassment. The event is organized by the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN) an organization based in the US that helps students in schools combat bullying, harassment, and more.
“Pledging to be silent meant not only raising awareness for others but for myself, I had to be constantly aware of myself and not talking,” said Madison Price, sophomore in history. “Doing this made me aware of how much verbal conversation goes on in a day and how much can be taken away from people not being able to feel comfortable around others because of the bullying and silencing. Pledging meant understanding the hardships and the people who faced them more.”
Pitt State organization, PRISM, has participated in the Day of Silence for many years. However, in the last few years they have not has as much publicly as it has been over the weekend. This year, the Day of Silence was Friday April 12.
“We decided to participate just because we know that it’s still an ongoing problem in schools, not necessarily here at Pitt but definitely all over the world, there was a study in 2013 that nine out of ten students admitted that they felt harassed or bullied and like thirty percent of students said they would miss a day of school because they were scared of harassment or bullying so it’s definitely still important to continue to advocate for it,” said Morgan Singletary, junior in mathematics and computer information systems and president of PRISM.
Students on campus had the opportunity to take a vow of silence for the day either for themselves, a friend, or to show their support for the LGBTQ+ community.
“It’s important to me, you know, I’m president of the organization and I identify with LGBTQ+ people, and I know that I have friends that are going through tough times in school,” Singletary said. “It’s just important to me to show that I support [them].”
Anyone in the U.S. can participate in the Day of Silence. PRISM promoted it and students in PRISM as well as students who were not part of the organization could vow to be silent on their own to show their support, either for themselves or for others who are silenced every day for who they are.
“What it means to me is that I’ve been in that position like every day for me was like you know, a Day of Silence because it would be safer to not say anything than you know, expose myself…,” Jackson said. “I had to deal with problems at home and at school in high school and all that and right before I graduated there’s some issues…but with PRISM it’s the representation, some people like me experience that first hand, if not second hand, they know a friend who is kind of excluded, stuff like that, has those kinds of problems and can’t stand up for themselves.”
The goal of the Day of Silence is not only to bring attention to the silencing of LGBTQ+ students but also to create safe spaces for students in the community to attend school and feel comfortable being themselves.
“I decided to participate in the Day of Silence because I know how it is to… not be heard or get any backlash for saying things that I believe in, so the Day of Silence is for people who don’t have a voice who try to stay silent to protect themselves,” said Violet Jackson, sophomore in interior design.
Some students were not able to pledge a full Day of Silence due to work schedules, so they participated as much as they could in other ways.
“I participated as much as I could, I was silent in the two classes I had as well as the remainder of the time that we were out in the oval,” said Alexander Quackenbush, sophomore in accounting. “I definitely wish I could’ve done a lot longer than that, but I also work as a server and it’s really hard to be a server and not talk, but it was definitely something I wish I had planned out better, so I could have done more with it.”
Other students who could not pledge to be silent all day opted to log out of their social media for the day, to be silent on all social media platforms.
“For me it was mostly focused, like I know it’s for all of the LGBT+ community, for me it was specifically more towards trans but that’s mostly because I am trans and have figured that out in the last year or so and so that’s what I’m more focused on now,” Quackenbush said.
The Day of Silence raises awareness of how many students feel silenced by bullying and harassment in schools every day. Those in the LGBTQ+ community or allies can stand up and vow silence to show classmates the impact these things have on someone.
“It’s important… (to) advocate, for people to bring it up to people’s attention to show that there are people here that are harassed and feel silenced, “Singletary said. “The point of the movement is really to show that like ‘What if I was silenced,’ to show people this is what happens to people, someone could say something to this person and that person won’t want to talk about like themselves anymore.”