Although speaking up presents one’s thoughts through audible sound, silence can also be used to voice one’s feelings or opinions. Wearing special red “Speaking Cards” in front of their chests and “Keep Calm and Be Yourself” T-shirts, 778 students and 57 faculty members followed the lead of AHS’ Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) and adopted this form of support toward the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning (LGBTQ) community during the annual Day of Silence movement on April 17.
“We were so proud of all the participants because it takes a lot of courage to reach out, have so much pride in what you believe in and be able to show it off,” GSA Vice President Celeste Olmos said.
Founded by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) in 1996, Day of Silence is the single largest student-led national campaign toward creating safer schools for all, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression. According to the Day of Silence website, it is a day of action on which participants vow to take a form of silence to call attention to the silencing effect of anti-LGBT bullying, prejudice and harassment in schools.
Striving to advocate for just policies that protect LGBTQ youth from violence and discrimination, AHS’ GSA participated in Day of Silence for the first time this year and also took the lead of recruiting participants on campus. Guidance Counselor Ana Dacaret contributed by applying for the California Teachers’ Association’s Guy De Rosa’s Safe Schools Grant. Using the grant, GSA was able to purchase the T-shirts to show the club’s solidarity.
“[Day of Silence] was fueled by students who demanded an end to homophobia at their school site and who wanted to send a message that in-school tolerance is necessary and demanded,” GSA adviser Dr. Carlos Villagomez said.
With the large student participation, GSA expects future development and promotion for the Day of Silence.
“My plan is to make the club always go up, and to provide all students with a place where they can feel comfortable to be themselves without being judged or [made] fun of by other individuals,” GSA President Oscar Acosta said.
MOOR graphic by SAMMIE CHEN