OPINION | Day of Silenc should change tactics

This Friday is the national Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Day of Silence.

The Day of Silence is a nationwide protest of anti-gay bullying and institutionalized discrimination.

While the protest has good intentions, the Day of Silence needs to review its tactics.

The activists need to speak up.

The Day of Silence is sponsored by a few national organizations including the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network.

According to dayofsilence.org, the protest is the largest “one-day, student-led grassroots action on LGBT rights.”

It is worth noting that the GLSEN and even the Day of Silence talk only about sexual orientation bullying.

Little to no mention is made about people who identify as transgendered or queer.

By leaving out these already underrepresented groups, the organization sets off on shaky footing.

This well-intentioned but incomplete focus can be seen in their tactics as well.

Organizers in middle schools, high schools and colleges across the country do all of their own event planning.

The groups use vows of silence to illustrate how people who are not heterosexual are silenced through bullying and discrimination.

In theory, this works very well.

If lots of people take the oath, it makes for a powerful demonstration.

But if we want to see the end of LGBT bullying, it cannot be done silently.

Look at the Civil Rights Movement.

The famous sit-ins were illegal.

The marches announced their presence with chants, songs and even shouts.

The point is that the participants in that movement were tired of silence.

Do not ask silently—or even quietly—for the same protections and rights afforded to others.

More broadly, all students should recognize what this day is about: bullying and discrimination.

The protesters are not even demanding that anyone be comfortable with them.

In fact, they do not even ask for respect.

Instead, they ask that any potential bully keep his or her hurtful words inside.

People deserve to live their lives without being harassed and threatened when they do no harm.

Keeping silent to honor the brutalized silence of others will not put a stop to bullies.

Try using more volume, not less.


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