Silence Can Speak Volume

Colette Combs, Editor

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Since 1996, students have been participating in an annual Day of Silence across the United States to call attention to the importance of letting the voices of LGBTQ students be heard. The Day of Silence is a nationwide event organized by GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network,) an organization that works, “to end discrimination, harassment, and bullying based on sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression in K-12 schools.” According to GLSEN, the Day of Silence “has become the largest single student-led action towards creating safer schools for all, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.” The Day of Silence has grown in popularity in schools across America and has recently found its way into Pingree. This year, Pingree’s Day of Silence was on Friday, April 12th.

Pingree’s GSA (Gender and Sexuality Alliance) brought the day to Pingree and have since been working every year to bring more attention and participation to the day. Last year, Physics teacher Mr. Bert shared a speech on the morning of the Day of Silence about his experiences and encouraging members of the community to be respectful throughout the day. This year, voice and music teacher Mr. Thom shared a speech about his experiences as a part of the LGBTQ community and why the day of silence is important to him.

This year, the Day of Silence fell on a particularly emotional day for the LGBTQ community, as April 12th, 2019 also marked the day which the Trump administration’s ban on transgender troops went into effect in the US armed forces. This event serves as a solemn reminder of the hate and discrimination the LGBTQ community still faces, and its concurrence with the Day of Silence highlights how members of the LGBTQ community are still regularly silenced and excluded just because of one aspect of their identity.

Stickers or buttons were worn by participants to signal to others that they were participating in the Day of Silence and would not be able to speak. Allies who wanted to participate in the day but could not make a pledge of silence had the opportunity to participate by reminding those not participating to be respectful throughout the day.     

Pingree has a history of participating in the day, and participation has grown significantly over the past few years. In 2017, 38 students participated, while last year, 49 members of the Pingree community participated in the Day of Silence. This year, 75 students, faculty, and members of staff signed up to participate on the day.  

The point of the day extends outside of those who sign up to participate––the day affects everyone in the community. By remaining silent, participants are highlighting how homophobia, hate, and discrimination often silence the voices of LGBTQ youth. When noticing absences in class discussions and in the halls, students are also noticing the impact of missing out on hearing the voices of those who do not feel free to speak openly.