GSA members vow day of silence


Photo used with permission of Whitney Roberts

GSA president senior Whitney Roberts and member senior Jordan Cabico complete a signed banner for the day of silence.

Members of the LQBTQ+ community all around the globe will be going about their day without saying a word on Friday, April 12. Day of Silence is a day for open LGBTQ+ to show support of those who are in situations that make them unable to come out or have yet to come out.

“We will remain silent for the whole day in solidarity for those who can’t come out and have to be silent every day,” GSA president senior Whitney Roberts said. “It’s a way to show that we’re there for them and we know what they’re going through.”

Day of Silence was started in April 1996 at the University of Virginia by a group of students that wanted to raise awareness about the LGBTQ+ community. The day represents how members of the community have traditionally been silenced and forced into the closet. Students across the country are joined together by silence for a 24-hour period to raise awareness and show support for those who are unable to come out.

“It is a day for me to think about what it is like for students who are not able to be themselves because they are not out,” English teacher and GSA sponsor Renée Vanlandingham said. “I think of a young man who came to me at the beginning of the school year who told me he wished he could come to GSA, but he couldn’t because if his family knew they would literally kill him and he meant that. The day of silence is for people like him, so I can show my solidarity with him and the plight that he faces and millions of other people across the world face.”

Students who want to show their support for those who are choosing to be silent can be aware and informed about what the day is about, educate others and help to communicate for the students who are not speaking. They can sign a banner located in the Media Center to pledge their support.

“I do it because I was once a person who had to be silent,” Roberts said. “It’s very scary, and to have to be silenced every day because you’re scared of your own safety and fearful of being compromised, it’s a very scary time. Now that I am past that and I am out, I want to show those who are going through what I went through that it gets better.”

Students participating in the Day of Silence have written an essay and turned it into Vanlandingham or social studies teacher Michelle Greco. The essay was about why they wanted to participate and was due Tuesday in order for them to be allowed to be silent on Friday. Students participating will be wearing stickers and will have a form to let teachers know what it is that they are doing and why. Students not choosing to be silent can advocate for those who are by making sure students and staff are aware of the day and helping those students communicate.

“If someone is choosing to be silent, the best way you can help out is by simply lending a hand,” Vanlandingham said. “Maybe push a note to that person, or a pad of paper and have them write out a response. They can type a response if a phone or device is allowed in that particular class, but don’t push that person to speak. Don’t beg them on the side to answer you verbally. Just acknowledge that they are doing something meaningful and impactful and important to them and help them in any way you can.”