Staying Silent and Standing Proud

by Julia Robins ’20

Occuring every year in the United States since 1966, April 12 is known as International Day of Silence. This student-led event encourages students to take a vow of silence for the day in support of LGBTQ+ students’ rights and protest how they are being silenced every day due to their sexuality– whether by their peers or teachers. It not only shows those students that they are not alone, but also requests that school administration (as well as local, state, and national government) take steps in making inclusive policy changes.

During lunch this week, students can sign up at a table outside the media center or go to science teacher Mary Baker’s room. Students can choose from two stickers: one that tells their teachers and friends that they are staying silent, and one that simply says that they are a supporter. According to school policy, this form of nonviolent protest should be respected by the teachers.

For the club Stand Proud, it is one of the most important days, where one can “show the world that [they] care about [their] peers, [their] friends, [and themselves], to stand up and say [they] won’t take [discrimination] anymore,” explained Senior Diana Wasson, the club’s president. “It is the little things that make the most difference.”

Many teachers have “LGBTQ Safe Zone” signs in their classrooms, but for many, this symbol is not enough, especially for Wasson, who listens as her peers come to her with accounts of bullying and harassment, often feeling extremely insecure. Discrimination is still an issue that hides behind closed doors.  

“We see this discrimination in the little things, the way high school students will toss around homophobic slurs and call [people] they [dislike] ‘gay’. We see it in the arguments in classes to get people to address our friends with the right pronouns and the right names,” said Wasson. “Maybe no one gets beat up anymore. Maybe the queer kids at Sherwood no longer have to go home with black eyes. But internal injuries are just as severe as external, and sometimes they hurt even worse.”