LGBTQ students on campus participated in a “Day of Silence” last Friday to bring awareness about the silencing effects connected to anti-LGBTQ bullying.
Alexander Hill, sophomore biology major form Abilene, participated by wearing black tape on his mouth with the words “No Hate – Day of Silence” written on it in silver Sharpie and handing out cards explaining what he was doing.
“The Day of Silence is an attempt to convey the feeling of not being out as an LGBT student and not being able to be your true self because you know on some campuses that you would lose friends or be judged and on others that there are actual rules against you,” Hill said.
Hill said the goal was to raise awareness of LGBTQ issues on campus. He also wanted show these are not problems that can be swept under the rug.
“I didn’t ever get overtly negative responses,” Hill said. “I did get some strange looks. Some uncomfortably laughed; others legitimately asked me what was going on.”
Hill said he believed students are responsible for changing the atmosphere surrounding the LGBTQ community on campus.
“We have to start thinking about how our words and how our language affects people and about how not everyone is like us,” Hill said. “There are a lot of different people here and we have to make sure to be nice to everybody. Even if something doesn’t affect you and your friends it can be really offensive to someone else.”
The Day of Silence started at the University of Virginia in 1996 and has now spread to over 8,000 middle schools, high schools and colleges in the U.S., according to DayofSilence.org.
Brent Bailey, first year master of divinity student from Kingwood, said many non-LGBTQ individuals participate in the Day of Silence to show support for the LGBTQ community and also to stand up against bullying and oppressive violence in general.
“Sometimes school hallways can be the most unsafe places for LGBTQ teens because they don’t know what to expect from their peers and a lot of times the reaction from peers, if they express their orientation, is going to be negative and maybe even violent,” Bailey said. “So it’s trying to bring awareness of the dangers and difficulties of being LGBTQ in a world that is not welcoming of it.”
Bailey said he thinks people should have the freedom to feel safe when talking about their experience of sexuality without being ostracized or oppressed, especially in a Christian environment.
“I’ve not personally been the victim of anti-gay bullying but I have experienced the pain and the loneliness of being forced to be silent because of my sexual orientation,” Bailey said. “We need to make our schools and our churches places where people can feel safe to talk about their experience of sexuality.”
Bailey said he thinks there is a growing number of students at ACU who are passionate about this issue who are not personally affected by it.
“I think that this issue needs to cease being a taboo it needs to be something that we’re comfortable talking about in a mature and sensitive way so that people who have experienced life as a sexual minority can feel comfortable sharing what they’ve been through,” Bailey said.