Southwestern College’s Day of Silence was nothing more than a day of disappointment. Instead of using silence as a weapon against bigotry, the SWC Gay Straight Alliance did little more than stick its foot in its mouth.
The National Day of Silence, supported by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, was meant for students in the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender community and their allies to unite hand-and-hand in silence to bring awareness to anti-gay violence and discrimination. A celebratory breaking of the silence caps the event and participants share thoughts about the days experience and gay issues.
Students in high school and colleges across the country spend weeks in advance carefully planning the National Day Of Silence, making sure the event is respectable and attracts much-needed attention to the issue. Sit-ins and protests are organized where participating individuals take a 24-hour vow of quiet together. Participants during their 24-hour period of quiet pass out speaking cards to explaining why they have taken a vow of silence and what it represents.
“Please understand my reasons for not speaking today. I am participating in the Day of Silence, a national youth movement protesting the silence faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and their allies. My deliberate silence echoes that silence, which is caused by harassment, prejudice, and discrimination. I believe that ending the silence is the first step toward fighting these injustices. Think about the voices you are not hearing today. What are you doing to end the silence?”
Speaking cards come in both English and Spanish, accompanied by a flyer inviting supporters to the breaking of silence event.
SWC’s GSA laid a big post-Easter egg. No students outside of the club were aware of the event. There were no flyers or posters to let other students know.
Breaking the silence is the most important portion of the event because it allows students who are facing silence to speak out against harassment. For supporters it is a time to reflect on spending a day unable to communicate with their friends and family. Often speakers are scheduled for the rally to inspire and empower participants. Students on the SWC campus did not get a chance to hear speakers, due to lack of planning by GSA.
GSA members displayed no desire to remain silent. They played patty-cake and laughed childishly about the immature and inappropriate surgical masks they wore. Shirts that were to be printed by a professional manufacture were not ordered on time, resulting in handmade spraypainted shirts with distasteful mock blood spatters. The Day of Silence is a peaceful event to and promote tolerance and educate people about the struggles of being ashamed and afraid of sexuality, not blood splatters.
Valiant efforts and the memories of Gay rights pioneers were lost in a sea of blithe socialization at SWC. The actions of the Gay-Straight Alliance were gravely disrespectful and a slap in the face to forebearers who fought — and often died — for the rights they now enjoy.
Faculty and students who watched the giggling gathering asked, “Why does your shirt say Day of Silence, but you’re still talking?” Unphased by the questions, the immature participants went on, laughing and joking.
College is where maturity is expected to develop and sensitive issues can be dealt with in a variety of traditional or creative ways.
GSA’s display during the event disgraced its members and ruined the event. The disrespectful behavior of GSA members should not be a reflection on the LGBT community as a whole, just the actions of a group of disorganized and immature college students.
Members of the LGBT community face a hard enough time working through their own struggles without having to deal with embarrassing acts like those of the SWC GSA.