Wednesday marks eleventh anniversary of the Day of Silence

Several students chose to remain silent for the duration of yesterday in participation with the annual Gay Straight Alliance (GSA) sponsered “Day of Silence.”

“Day of Silence is a national student-led campaign in middle schools, high schools, and colleges in which students refrain from speaking so as to reflect physically and visually the silence that queer people face as a result of oppression,” says Montica Levy, president of the GSA. “Queer people are discouraged from talking about their partners, their sexual behavior, and their likes and dislikes daily in our society.”

Participating students went through their regular Wednesday schedules like any other day, except for the fact that they were only able to take part in class through hand motions or writing. Those remaining silent kept small pieces of paper clipped to their clothing explaining their choice to stay silent and the reasons behind it.

The “Day of Silence,” also functions as an integral part of “Not In Our School,” week.

“Not in Our School is a week full of activities sponsored by different clubs to celebrate what we’ve done to combat hate, and ‘Day of Silence’ is a perfect reflection and extension of that goal,” says Levy.

During lunch, tables and chairs were set up on the quad specifically for the purpose of seating “Day of Silence,” participants. In front of this area a large sheet of a paper was laid for people to sign.

“We, the undersigned,” the paper began, “pledge not to use any slurs and to do all within our power to stop their use in our community for the benefit of all.”

Anyone who chose to sign the paper received a rainbow colored ribbon, signifying diversity.

The annual “Day of Silence,” was created on April 18, 1996 at the University of Virginia, joining the ranks of such national days of action as the Transgender Day of Remembrance, on November 20th, and Ally Week, from October 15th-21st. This year marked the “Day of Silence’s” 11th anniversary.

Many of Paly’s silent students symbolically covered their mouths with tape or bandanas, while others wrapped black sashes around their forearms to symbolize anti-queer oppression. Participants included people of homosexual, bisexual, transgender, and heterosexual orientations.