Montgomery Blair High School's Online Student Newspaper
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April 20, 2010

Drowned out

by Anya Gosine, Online Managing, Op/Ed and Food Editor
Each year, gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender students attend school in fear. They fear their peers who will bully them because of their sexual orientation and gender expression. And each year, students at schools across the nation support this sound cause with the power of silence.

According to the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), nearly 86.2 percent of LGBT middle and high school students experienced harassment at school in 2007. Thus, the National Day of Silence, sponsored by GLSEN, is held annually in order to bring attention to anti-LGBT name-calling, bullying and harassment in schools. But at Blair, while participation may be worthwhile on a personal level, the message seems to be lost when it hits the halls.

Blair has participated in the National Day of Silence for more than 10 years, according to Blair's Gay Straight Alliance (GSA) President Hien Le. And though the event tends have a notable amount of participants, the percentage of Blazers who remain silent for the entire day is indubitably small. Aside from the LGBT stickers and ribbons worn by many, Blair Boulevard looks - and sounds - generally the same as any other day. It is unlikely that those actually responsible for the bullying and harassment of LGBT students fully receive the message.

And while the cause behind the Day of Silence is of a serious matter, there are those who do it solely to be part of the bandwagon. This is somewhat expected but it detracts from the power of the message that the silence sends. The Day of Silence should not be thought of as a trend, but as a worthy cause worth believing in.

The Day of Silence further loses its effect when it becomes a conflict in the classroom. Many students not only cited teachers who refused to recognize the Day of Silence by requiring students to speak, but also instances in which students' silence disrupted the flow of lessons. When teachers do not design their lessons to accommodate for silent participants, the very essence of the Day of Silence is destroyed.

Perhaps the most fatal flaw in the Day of Silence at Blair is unawareness of the event by a significant population of Blazers. Le, who is in charge of organizing the Day of Silence at Blair acknowledged that the planning and advertising of the event was hindered this year by both the snow days as well as conflicts with other events, such as the spring musical. Le noted that for the future, the club will have to put more effort into spreading the word. "It's just something we have to learn to work around," she said.

With so many students nation-wide silenced daily by the oppression of bullies, it is vital that attention be brought to the problem. But at schools as large as Blair, but there must be more effective ways of making the message echo. Ad campaigns such as GLSEN's ThinkB4YouSpeak send equally powerful messages, and can be featured on InfoFlow, which reaches the entire school. Even stickers and signs alone can raise more awareness with their visual impact.

"I'm waiting for the day we will not need a Day of Silence anymore," Le said. This hope may seem far in the future for the country, but we can achieve it at Blair with the right methods.



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  • Cariba Phoenix on May 7, 2010 at 12:17 PM
    I'd actually disagree with this article. The very fact that this disrupts the normal flow of classes means that a message does get sent, as both students and teachers and bystanders are forced to choose between fighting for equality and the status quo. When I was a freshmen, simply seeing other students stay silent had a big effect on me, so I joined in. I think it's been a powerful grassroots tool, even in some intangible ways. And let's face it ~ info flow isn't a decent replacement. Stuff on that is usually in one ear and out the other.
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