LGBTQIA action for equality

Silence brings awareness

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The National Day of Silence (DOS) is next Friday, April 17. The event is a nationwide student-led day of action to bring attention to the struggles many people in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, and asexual (LGBTQIA) community face.

The DOS is led by the official organizational sponsor the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN), a national educational network with a goal of creating safer schools for students. It began in 1996 at the University of Virginia when over 150 students wanted to bring attention to the issues faced by LGBTQIA students on campus following a class assignment about non-violent protests.

Since then, the DOS has grown reaching over 8,000 schools in 2008 as well as those from around the globe in New Zealand, Singapore and other countries.

Although some have slammed the event for using silence to raise awareness, as that is what the DOS is fighting against, this event is using silence as a way to make a statement. This is not the same silence as that caused by intimidation, bullying, and harassment. The GLSEN says it’s important to “think about the voices you are not hearing today.”

There are many people who do not understand the complexities of gender and sexuality. It isn’t just male or female and gay or straight. Without learning of them we are silencing those in the LGBTQIA community who fall into one of the other categories that people do not often hear about, such as asexual or gender fluid people. We are not giving people the representation they deserve in order to be properly recognized.

While the acceptance of the LGBTQIA community has increased vastly over the years, there is still the problem of addressing heterosexuality as the standard and anything on the other end of the spectrum and in between as abnormal. While I don’t feel like sexuality, be it hetero or homosexual, should be something shoved down people’s throats, it is important for people to be aware of them. If people are not willing to have these discussions and educate themselves, then it will be hard for anything to change.

An important thing to remember if you plan on participating in the DOS, Lambda Legal, the largest national legal organization that works to ensure the recognition of civil rights for the LGBTQIA community and those with HIV, states while your right to remain silent before, after, and in between class time is protected by the first amendment, students who wish to participate in the event during instructional time should ask teachers ahead of time. For more information on the National Day of Silence visit dayofsilence.org.