Day of Silence held at WHS

Pictured above is the badge that participants in the Day of Silence wore in 2015. The Gay Straight Alliances Day of Silence was to raise awareness for the often silenced LGBTQ community.

Pictured above is the badge that participants in the Day of Silence wore in 2015. The Gay Straight Alliance’s Day of Silence was to raise awareness for the often silenced LGBTQ community.

On Thursday, April 26, students at Wayland High School participated in the annual Day of Silence. The event was started in 1996 by students at the University of Virginia to honor people in the LGBTQ community whose voices have been silenced. On this day, students who choose to participate remain silent in order to show support for the LGBTQ community and especially those whose voices are hushed.

The purpose of the Day of Silence is to allow other students to understand the perspective of the members of the LGBTQ community.

“The idea is to feel what it must be like not to be able to always express your true self,” WHS Alliance club advisor Naomi Rosenthal said.

Alliance, a club that aims to support and give a voice to LGBTQ students, played an important role in organizing the event. Sophomore Sylvia Lagor is one of the students who remained silent, and for her, getting involved was essential.

“I think it’s nice to see people support my community,” Lagor said. “And since I work in Alliance, it’s good to see how it has affected the [club] members as well.”

Lagor and junior Emma Marton were the first to initiate this year’s event and coordinate with the administration.

“A few weeks ago, [Lagor] and [Marton] came to a faculty meeting and let the teachers know when the Day of Silence would be,” Rosenthal said. “That way the teachers could think about their curriculum for that day, and if they wanted to make any adjustments, it gave them the opportunity to do so [in advance].”

The Day of Silence is, for many members of the LGBTQ community, symbolically very powerful. Showing that many of their voices are deprived is a key goal of the day.

“A lot of kids out there will hear slurs or get harassed,” Lagor said. “And maybe their school is not supportive, or maybe they’ve heard these comments at home and their home is not a supportive environment, so they can’t necessarily speak up for themselves and speak up against homophobia.”

According to Rosenthal, this event also presents students with the opportunity to get involved and raise awareness about daily obstacles that members of the LGBTQ community may encounter.

“There are a lot of kids here at WHS who either are gay or trans or questioning, but don’t necessarily have the time or the need to be part of a club,” Rosenthal said. “But sometimes, they just want a chance to be involved.”

There was a decrease in students’ involvement this year with only 33 people registering to participate in the Day of Silence, while the number peaked at 80 last year.

“I know that it may not seem like much, but to ask people to commit to not speaking for a whole day, I’d be glad if only one person signed up,” Lagor said. “Just the sentiment for somebody to say that they’d do this is great.”

For both Lagor and Rosenthal, the Day of Silence is a perfect occasion to make students fully aware of the reality of many members of the LGBTQ community, and further the understanding of their daily struggle for acceptance.

“I hope that after the Day of Silence, kids will talk,” Rosenthal said. “That’s actually why we’re planning our Out-and-Proud Panel for the next day. [The Day of Silence is] kind of a way of breaking the silence. Any time someone is meant to feel either comfortable or uncomfortable, it [makes them] want to talk, so I guess that would be my goal — to just have people pause for a moment and say, ‘I never thought of that, I never really thought that there are people in this school, and in the world, who aren’t comfortable with being themselves.’”