Thursday May 10, 2012
If “silence is golden,” as the proverb notes, then its value was never more apparent than on Friday, April 20, at South Burlington High School (SBHS), when dozens of students took part in the Day of Silence.
The Day of Silence is a nationally recognized event where “students from middle school to college take a vow of silence in an effort to encourage schools and classmates to address the problem of anti-lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender (LGBT) behavior by illustrating the silencing effect of bullying and harassment on LGBT students and those perceived to be LGBT” (dayofsilence.org).
The high school’s event involved a series of pro-active opportunities including students choosing to remain silent for the entire school day, wearing “No Hate” face tattoos and red clothing in support, gathering to receive further information on bullying and harassment, and participating in a silent walk through the hallways carrying signs to raise awareness about the issue.
Brittany Manos, a Big Picture South Burlington sophomore and one of the organizers of the student-led Day of Silence, explained, “I commonly say that we are echoing the silence of those who have taken their life because of bullying and harassment.”
“The Day of Silence is in response to a newly coined term ‘Bullicide,’” continued Christine Lundie, Big Picture and SBHS educator and advisor to the SBHS Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA), host of the event. “Bullicide refers to the increased numbers of incidents in which ongoing bullying has led to victims taking their lives by suicide. Statistics tell us that these incidents more frequently involve students who are (or are perceived to be) gay, lesbian, transgendered, bi-sexual, or questioning.”
Of the annual event, Ms. Lundie noted, “Our hope is to honor those who have been silenced by having a quality event that is respected among the community (even if people choose not to participate). We also hope to raise awareness and to give people a moment to reflect on their own habits and behaviors.”
“We are a no judgment group,” explained Ms. Manos when asked about the GSA. “We open our arms to anyone from every walk of life. We welcome everyone, not just people who are gay (which is a common misconception). We shed light on bullying and harassment, and we try to prevent bullying as much as humanly possible.”
Ms. Lundie expressed pride in her school community’s participation in the Day of Silence: “I am always amazed and appreciative of how many people sign up to participate. It is nice to see support for the cause.”
“When I hear people talk up the Day of Silence, I feel like our group’s hard work has really resonated,” reflected Ms. Manos. “I feel like we’ve done our job right.”
SOURCE: Susie Merrick, Contributor