Day of Silence held at Kent State

Photo by Matt Hafley.

Photo by Matt Hafley.

Daniel Moore

Gelyn Angus gave her input during her Freshman Honors Colloquium class Friday about a short story by Kurt Vonnegut. But unlike others in the vocal group discussion, she wrote down her thoughts and passed it to a friend to read aloud for her.

Angus, freshman pre-nursing major, was one of the participants in the National Day of Silence. It is the final event of PRIDE! Week, a national campaign sponsored by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) during which students across the country call attention to the silencing effects of anti-LGBT bullying and harassment in schools.

Christopher Clevenger, programmer for PRIDE! Kent and sophomore electronic media major, said Day of Silence is up to individual interpretation, and students can take it to their own extreme.

“It’s your representation of your silence that you were forced into for being LGBT, or, being an ally, and seeing that silence that everyone else is being forced into,” Clevenger said.

Angus said she represents the latter: an ally of the LGBT community. She said she had heard about the Day of Silence before, but it was her friends who finally convinced her to do it for the first time. 

LGBT Bullying Facts (Source:

  • Nearly 9 out of 10 LGBT students experience harassment in American schools each year.
  • 60 percent of LGBT youth feel unsafe at school because of their sexual orientation.
  • Nearly 1 out of 3 LGBT youth missed school in the past month because of safety concerns.
  • 84.6 percent of LGBT students reported being verbally harassed, 40.1 percent reported being physically harassed and 18.8 percent reported being physically assaulted at school in the past year because of their sexual orientation.
  • 63.7 percent of LGBT students reported being verbally harassed, 27.2 percent reported being physically harassed and 12.5 percent reported being physically assaulted at school in the past year because of their gender expression.
  • 72.4 percent heard homophobic remarks, such as “faggot” or “dyke,” frequently or often at school.
  • Nearly two-thirds (61.1 percent) of students reported that they felt unsafe in school because of their sexual orientation, and more than a third (39.9 percent) felt unsafe because of their gender expression.
  • 29.1% percent of LGBT students missed a class at least once and 30.0 percent missed at least one day of school in the past month because of safety concerns, compared to only 8.0 percent and 6.7 percent, respectively, of a national sample of secondary school students.
  • The reported grade point average of students who were more frequently harassed because of their sexual orientation or gender expression was almost half a grade lower than for students who were less often harassed (2.7 vs. 3.1).

“I did it this year because a couple of my friends here were doing it, and it was good experience,” Angus said. “It was really, really difficult because I kept wanting to talk to my friends. It was really hard because I had to pantomime everything or type it out or write it down.”

Angus said the silence was more difficult than she anticipated. 

“By the time you get one answer written down or one response, people have normally moved on to another subject,” she said.

But Clevenger said those difficulties are the point of Day of Silence. Those who participated, he said, effectively expressed their purpose by getting people’s attention.

“When you’re doing a silent performance, (people) see that you’re doing something. They ask you questions, but you don’t respond,” he said. “You make them read the cards. I’m making you notice our silence by being silent.”

He said he passed out “speaking cards” for students to communicate with professors and friends throughout the day. The silence was ultimately broken at 7 p.m. by the “Night of Noise,” a dance party hosted by PRIDE! Kent.

“I was very, very happy to see the amount of participation we had,” he said. “I saw a ton of Facebook comments about it… I saw people with duct tape over their mouths, holding the cards, walking around.”

Clevenger said based off the number of people he saw participating around campus, this year was definitely more successful than last year.

“I think Kent State is starting to notice that there is a major LGBT presence here on campus, and they’re starting to realize that we all have voices too,” he said.

Angus said she feels her day of silence supported her friends who are gay, lesbian and bisexual. She said she was lucky enough to grow up in a tolerant hometown, and she would like everyone to be as accepting.

“They should get their own marriages; it shouldn’t be disallowed,” Angus said. “However many years ago, interracial marriages were frowned upon, and we’re just doing the same thing but with sexes. Everyone deserves equal rights.”

Clevenger said the strategy of Day of Silence is different from most advertising tactics.

“Any group can get up in your face and say ‘This is a cause and this is something you need to support,’ but when people take time to notice that you’re being silent, it’s a totally different thing.”

Contact Daniel Moore at [email protected].