Staying quiet for a cause

Christina Stavale

LGBT students, allies to use silence to promote equality

As students go about their normal routines of talking with friends and participating in classroom discussions, Max Harrington, freshman middle childhood education major, will remain silent.

He will not talk all day, silently protesting the times he and others have been silenced by name-calling, bullying and harassment.

Today is the 12th annual Day of Silence – a day when lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students and their allies stand silently together for equality, regardless of gender and sexual orientation.

This year is Harrington’s first time participating in the Day of Silence.

He said he remembers how much he cared when Matthew Shepard, a Wyoming college student, was murdered nearly 10 years ago for his sexual orientation. Having a day like this, he said, puts things like that into perspective.

“Everybody can stand together for this on one specific day,” he said.

Though he said he’s never felt silenced to the point where it bothered him a lot, he thinks having a day like this is important.

Coming from a small town, he hadn’t heard about the Day of Silence until this year. But he said he thinks having this silent protest is a good way to go about doing things.

PRIDE!Kent President Leora Rzepka said the day gives straight allies like herself a chance to be active in the community and show LGBT students they are not alone.

“For a lot of people who are LGBT,” she said, “the Day of Silence makes them feel that they’re not alone and others are trying to sympathize with what they’re going through.”

Rzepka said she has been participating in the Day of Silence since her freshman year of high school.

She said she tries to communicate while speaking as little as possible. Usually, she uses a small notebook to write down what she needs to communicate to others, but one year she didn’t communicate at all.

Freshman exploratory major Erin Miller said she started participating in the Day of Silence in high school, too. Also a straight ally, she said people sometimes taunted her and others participating in the day, but it didn’t bother her. She said she took their words with a smile and a wave.

“There’s a misconception that only gay people will participate (in the Day of Silence), but straight people do it, too,” Miller said.

She said she thinks its one of the best ways straight allies can show support for the LGBT community.

Tomorrow, PRIDE!Kent will sponsor the Night of Noise to end today’s silence. This will be from 7 to 11 p.m. in Room 204 of the Student Center. Rzepka said this night will allow people to celebrate who they are after remaining silent for a day with food and dancing.

She encouraged anyone who supports LGBT rights to try to take part in the Day of Silence.

“Anyone who feels for the LGBT community should participate, if only to show solidarity,” she said.

Contact minority affairs reporter Christina Stavale at [email protected].