Day of Silence is a national grassroots event started by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, in which students (and faculty) take a day-long vow of silence to symbolically represent the silencing effect bullying and harrassment has on LGBT students and their supporters (www.dayofsilence.org). Day of Silence is the largest student-led action to protest the bullying and harassment of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBTQ) students and their allies.
At Taft, SHOUT (Students Homosexual and Otherwise United at Taft) tapped into the equity from our honor code, again asking community members to “pledge” to do something to end the silence. Organized by Kash Griffith '13 and members of SHOUT, many in the Taft community took a vow of silence for all or part of Friday, April 20. One of the highlights of the day was a banner on the way to Bingham Auditorium that students could sign, or "pledge."
"Most people included 'I pledge...,'" said Kash, "but we quickly ran out of room. It turned out to be a bigger success than any of us expected. All SHOUT leaders had an opportunity to add input on how to go about the day. Everything was a group effort. The photo shoot was very enjoyable. I was thrilled by the number of faculty and staff members that got involved. I personally used Day of Silence as a reflective and thought provoking day. I really want to thank all the people who took part in making this year a big turn out. Thanks to the other SHOUT leaders for their behind-the-scene work."
The event asks the question, “What will you do to end the silence?” Teachers were asked to take a minute at the start of each block to allow students to reflect silently about what they can do. Academic Dean Jon Willson ’82 reminded faculty that the day presented a unique opportunity not to be the “talking head” in the classroom, and to allow students to be more active learners.
DOS is a chance for Taft community, explains Andi Orben, who runs the Community Health At Taft (CHAT) program, “to show public support for those whose voices often are not heard. It's a day to remind community members that not everyone has the luxury of being themselves and or sharing their perspectives or dreams without fear of discrimination or harassment.”
"Day of Silence this year went really well," says Sarah Kaufman '12. "There was much more participation because we focused less on being silent for the entire day and more on pledging to be an ally."
For more information, visit www.dayofsilence.org