What our community should know about the Day of Silence | TheUnion.com

What our community should know about the Day of Silence

Other Voices
Ella Rohde

Everyone who has been in high school knows how difficult it is to deal with peer pressure.

The Day of Silence provides an escape from the pressure.

The goal of this day is to stop name-calling, specifically names directed at lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) students. Students around the world are taking a vow of silence for the Day of Silence, which takes place Friday, April 11.

This worldwide event began as a school assignment in 1996 and grew into an event with more than 100 colleges participating. It has grown bigger each year since it started.

GLSEN's (Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network) 2009 National School Climate Survey found that nearly 90 percent of LGBT students report various types of harassment at school; more than 30 percent reported missing at least a day of school in the month prior to the survey out of fear for their personal safety.

By holding a Day of Silence, a school provides a safe place for its students who are harassed, bullied and otherwise tormented about their sexuality or gender identity. The school also takes a stand, demonstrating that bullying and harassment will not be tolerated.

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While this event is aimed at LGBT students, it affects everyone, regardless of gender identity or sexuality.

You can still register your school, or your child's school, to participate in the event, which would provide an opportunity to give students a support network, help them form their own opinions and let them think with an open mind.

Middle-school teacher Cody Stein recommends that all schools participate in order to raise awareness. Cody says that it makes people think about how many students are afraid to attend school. Schools are not required to participate, but it would be a chance for them to show that they do support their students, regardless of their gender identity or sexual orientation.

Even if your school decides not to participate, you still can take a vow of silence to support your classmates.

When Amber White, a Nevada Union High School student, explained her experience of participation to me, I was happily surprised to hear that she had no negative feedback. The Nevada Union GSA (Gay-Straight Alliance) club found a way to participate while still being able to communicate in class.

"I carried a small white board with me throughout the day to explain what I was doing and why I was doing it," Amber explained.

This same technique was used by Cody Stein to continue the student's education. When asked about the results of their participation, both Amber and Cody replied that it raised their awareness levels.

"It shows students that their peers are scared, that the fear is real and that a little empathy can help save a life," Cody said.

"More awareness was raised for the GSA club," Amber added. "I felt like I helped a really good cause."

Everyone who has walked down the drab halls of a school can testify to seeing some form of bullying. Whether verbal, sexual or physical, the bullying needs to end. It is simply unacceptable.

Bullying can lead to depression, self-harm, eating disorders, self-hate, anxiety and even suicide. All of these disorders are felt by millions of students around the world.

So why should we place our children in environments that make them feel this? By placing your children in environments where they are bullied, you are not furthering their education. No one should come home from school feeling hopeless.

A school should be a place for learning the quadratic equation and the proper way to write thesis statements, not a place for bullying.

If you have been bullied, you know firsthand how it feels.

Personally, I have faced bullying, and I can testify to coming home every day and crying.

This is not the proper environment for anyone.

Register online to support the Day of Silence, a cause that wants students to feel safe, at http://action.glsen.org/page/s/day-of-silence.

Ella Rohde is a home-based sophomore studying at Nevada Union High School.

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