The Day of Silence is a student-led national event that brings attention to anti-LGBT name-calling, bullying and harassment in schools. 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-LGBT behavior by illustrating the silencing effect of bullying and harassment on LGBT students and those perceived to be LGBT.
This Day of Silence I will disappear. I will not be on Facebook: no liking, no posting, no sharing. I won’t tweet either. My profiles everywhere will go black. Consider, for the day, what my absence would mean to you.
My struggle in college has been my own, one not stemmed from violence or oppression. Here, a positive community surrounds me and I have a solid base of support, especially through our LGBTQ+ Resource Center. I have outlets in my art and other activities. I have a counseling center available and help is never too far away. Still, I struggle.
Consider the person I was in high school. That person had nowhere to go, nothing to look forward to, and met hatred and violence almost every single day. Now, though I have a lot of things to work through, I know help is available and I know how to get it, and I do. Then- what did I have? Where could I have gone?
Why am I bringing this up so pointedly, you ask? Because I am one person. The people I advocate for, youth alone, are thousands. Issues of violence, discrimination, and bullying are very real for such a large part of the LGBTQ+ community that one of our hallmarks is a higher risk for suicide and substance abuse. Some may say that in middle and high school, kids are “too young” to know who they are. I encourage you to remember that they are certainly not too young to disappear if the acceptance and support they need is unavailable.
People like me, young and struggling, disappear every single day. The violence they face at the hands of others often leads to even worse violence inflicted upon themselves, and I’m here to affirm that the scars from the past don’t just go away.
Take the time this Day of Silence to consider how you can step up. You can be a light in a very dark world. Make clear your support and make a commitment to make your community a safer place for the LGBTQ+ community. Resources are few, but growing, and with just a bit of research you can find fantastic organizations and plenty of tips as to where the most assistance is needed. I’m more than happy to connect you to resources as well.
Love yourselves, love your world. Listen very closely to the silence you hear instead of the people you care about today, and let that inspire you to action. I’ll still be here, loud and proud, tomorrow. Remember those who won’t be.
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