“Day of Silence” at HHS


T. DiGeronimo

Tee shirt worn on HHS Day of Silence

Jessica Layton, Contributor

Hawthorne High School Gay-Straight Alliance hosted a “Day of Silence” for students and faculty/staff on Friday, April 17.

The Day of Silence is an international event, sponsored by the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), that takes place in schools across the country yearly on April 17. On this day students pledge to take a vow of silence for the day in order to bring light to issues pertaining to the lesbian, gay, bi, and transsexual (LGBT) community.

Club advisor, Marisa Wentworth commented on HHS’s involvement saying, “Since Hawthorne has not participated in the Day of Silence for two years, I was very pleased with the positive response it received from the high school community.”

Vice Principal Christopher Hunninghake added, “I am very impressed that our students recognize the diversity that exists in society and how they are celebrating that diversity today.” The Gay-Straight Alliance is a club at HHS advised by science teacher Marissa Wentworth; members strive to educate themselves on LGBT topics and also to bring awareness of LGBT issues to the community .

The 130 participating students/staff wore labels provided by the GLESN so that students need not speak to explain their silence. The labels read: “I support Equality.” This same message was imprinted on blue tee-shirts worn by students and some faculty/staff.  The back of the shirts memorialized the day stating: “National Day of Silence. Hawthorne High School. April 17, 2015.”

According to BullyingStatistics.org, “Gay and Lesbian teens are two to three times as more likely to commit teen suicide than other youths.” “…Students who also fall into the gay, bisexual, lesbian or transgendered identity groups report being five times as more likely to miss school because they feel unsafe after being bullied due to their sexual orientation. …About 28 percent out of those groups feel forced to drop out of school altogether.”

Despite remarkable advances in the LGBT community in recent years, anti-LGBT slurs and derogatory terms are common-place in schools. The event strives to make students aware of their language and it’s potentially negative repercussions as well as to motivate schools to implement rules regarding LGBT bullying.

According to the organization’s website, DayofSilence.org, “GLSENs Day of Silence brings attention to anti-LGBT name-calling, bullying and harassment and effective responses. The goal of the Day of Silence is to make schools safer for all students, regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity/expression.”

The event was founded by students enrolled at the University of Virginia in 1966 as an assignment regarding non-violent protests. The very first Day of Silence began with 150 American students and has since then grown to include students around the world.

The website continues to report: “The Day of Silence is an example of students, from middle school to college, working together proactively to bring attention to the anti-LGBT name-calling, bullying and harassment experienced by LGBT and straight students alike.”