I thought this would be a rather fitting holiday considering the recent advancements in human rights in New Zealand…well done New Zealand! Legalising gay marriage, like the respectable, intelligent, with the times, wonderful nation you are (this is probably going to be the only point in history that Australia is going to give you so much praise, so savour this moment, for it is fleeting). Now gay marriage really shouldn’t be a political debate; it should be legal for people who love each other to marry each if other if they chose to do so and their sexual orientation shouldn’t affect their right to do so. However it seems that the world still has a long way to go with banishing prejudices that I am sure we’re going to look back upon in fifty years time in much the same way we look back at how women were treated a century ago. But unfortunately for now LGBT persons are still treated unfairly, and this attitude starts at a young age in the school playground. The Day of Silence is a day designed to bring attention to the name-calling, bullying and harassment of LGBT students and to make schools safer and friendlier places for all students regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.
According to the official Day of Silence website almost 9 out of 10 LGBT students experience harassment and 30% miss a day of school in a month out of fear. School can be a tough environment for many students. But it should not be 90% harassment rate tough – this is unacceptable. And with such commonplace slurs like “faggot” and the negative connotation associated with the use of the word “gay” by every 12 year old boy to describe everything and everyone it’s no wonder LGBT students have such a hard time. Obviously calling people “faggots” really has to stop – it’s name calling pure and simple and even if that person is not actually gay and is not being teased by people with the intention of insinuating that the person is gay it is still terrible as it creates this stigma that being gay is awful, which is obviously not actually the case. The trend of describing everything from the long line at the school tuckshop to the math exercises set as homework as “gay” (asides from making no logical sense at all as a description) produces the same kind of anti-LGBT culture.
The Day of Silence is a day to end silence – to bring to attention the harassment of LGBT students. It was started in 1996 at the University of Virginia in the United States as a response to an assignment on non-violent protests and over 150 students participating. This doesn’t sound like much, but today it’s an official event with a super snazzy website and a sponsor and 225 000 “likes” on Facebook and lots of people taking part all over the globe.
If you would like to get involved, the website has tons and tons of stuff and you can visit it here: http://www.dayofsilence.org/resources/ 😀 Many people make a point of staying silent throughout the day, the idea I believe being people will notice, ask, and then the topic of LGBT harassment will be discussed. There are tons of ways to get involved, even if you do something as simple as print and display the image below somewhere prominent.
~ Darcie Rae
Like them on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/NationalDayofSilence
The amazing website: http://www.dayofsilence.org/index.html