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  • angelonecaitlin

Day of Silence

Small scraps of paper can also indicate shifts in human rights.

My journal has three Day of Silence flyers from my high school years. We have come a long way in in lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning (LGBTQ) rights, and although acceptance is still not given by everyone, it’s hard to believe not so long-ago numbers were even smaller. An example I can always remember is being part of the LGBTQ club at my local high school and as I hung flyers for an upcoming meeting, a group of boys followed me down the hall tearing them down and calling me names. I reported it, nothing was done. Today, in a large metropolitan area, it is hard to believe the same outcome would happen. Teenagers, and adults, can be cruel, and the Day of Silence helped bring this to the attention of many.

The annual Day of Silence began as an action item to spread awareness about the effects of bullying on LGBTQ students. Students would take a vow of day-long silence to symbolically represent the silence of LGBTQ students harassed by classmates. The Day of Silence began in 1996 by students Maria Pulzetti and Jessie Gilliam hoping to attract students who were unaware of the struggles of their LGBTQ classmates.

GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network) became the first national sponsor of The Day of Silence in 2001. This ephemera indicates the reach The Day of Silence began to have, starting originally in college classrooms and now reaching middle and high school youth. The first Ally Week also began in 2005, which encouraged straight youth to stand in solidarity with LGBTQ members in their class. We see a trend to support LGBTQ students more openly from other students. We begin to see a shift in rights for LGBTQ members in schools. This also trickles over to legislature, such as the sanctioning of gay marriage in San Francisco in 2004. These ephemera pieces represent victories for this social movement.

The flyer was to be shown to your teacher or other students to indicate that you were not able to verbally communicate that day.

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