Teens mark Day of Silence
April 16, 2010 marked the 15th Annual Day of Silence in American schools. Thousands of middle and high school students took a vow of silence in an effort to raise awareness of and combat the bullying of students based on their sexual identification or orientation. Participants carried speaking cards that explained their reasons for not talking. When called upon by a teacher in class, they would speak if required.
The event started at the University of Virginia by Kevin Jennings. Students who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender experience not only taunting and ridicule, but physical violence from some of their peers. Anti-LGBT bullying is a pervasive problem in America’s schools – one that is oftentimes overlooked or inadequately addressed.
Carl Walker-Hoover was a middle school student in Massachusetts. He did not identify himself as gay but was repeatedly taunted with gay slurs and called a faggot. Some bullies even threatened to kill the 11-year-old boy. In April, 2009, Carl hung himself. His 16-year-old sister, Dominique, has taken up the cause. She helped organize this year’s Day of Silence at her school.
“I don’t really want to hear another story about my brother or the next Phoebe Prince,* she said. If you see someone being picked on, you don’t have to sit there and watch. You can cut in and say, ‘This isn’t cool.’”
*Phoebe Prince hung herself at home on January 14, 2010 after months of bullying at school, online and by text messages. Phoebe was 15 and new to America from Ireland. For more about this tragedy, see http://askthejudge.info/cyberbullies-take-another-life/4207/