The Willistonian, Est. 1881

Day of Silence Resonates Loudly, Proudly

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On Thursday, April 26, the Williston community participated in the Day of Silence, a national event to bring awareness to the silencing effects of anti-LGBTQ name-calling, bullying, and harassment in schools.

With the guidance of Ms. Davey and the support of the whole school, Williston’s Gay Straight Alliance (GSA) hosted a series of activities to help make the Day of Silence a truly powerful experience for our community.

Throughout the week, GSA held a Pride-shirt sale, handed out sheets for students to fill out their reasons for “breaking the silence,” and registered students who chose to remain silent on the actual day. On Wednesday, April 25, GSA also hosted a special CID storytelling event in the Dodge Room featuring six speakers, including LGBTQIA+ members and allies.

It was the second year Williston participated in Day of Silence. Davey said: “I left Williston for one year, and the school I left to go to did an outstanding job running their Day of Silence; it was remarkable and so powerful. So when I came back and became the Director of Diversity here, I said we needed to do something, as well.”

“I believe it was the way for the community to come together under this huge umbrella,” she added. “I thought about CID, which is the Culture Identity Discussions. Why not combine the two things together? We could have a story-sharing event to lead up to the Day of Silence to give it a bit more meaning. Those shared stories helped people build a positive connections to LGBTQ communities and their lifestyles. ”

This year, five students and one faculty member spoke at the event. Rebecca Chace, one of the dining hall staff, shared a story about her family dynamics, while seniors Marielle McHale, Madison Fulcher-Melendy, Lizzie Cuevas, and Lydia Pollard all shared stories unique to their experiences.

Davey noted that there were about 60 people in attendance at this year’s CID, while last year there were only about 20.

“The speakers last year were mostly faculty, while this year were mostly students, which I think was really powerful. We are also gaining more male participation,” she said.

At the event, Lydia spoke about her experiences being an ally for the LGBTQ community. She said, “I chose to participate in CID because I believe it is my responsibility as a cis, straight, white woman to stand up for people who don’t enjoy the convenience of being labelled ‘normal.'”

She continued: “As I said in my talk, my job is easy. I do this in the hopes that it could make a member of the LGBTQ+ community’s life just a tad easier. I want people to know I won’t judge, ridicule, or turn my back on them and they are always welcome to seek me out for advice, friendship, and/or just someone to talk to.”

Davey felt Lydia’s speech had far-reaching reverberations. “You just have to be kind,” Davey said. “You just have to be a good listener. You have to be open to people who are different from you. I think that message resonates with many people. When someone stands up and shows how easy it is to be an ally, I think that really sticks with people.”

Besides the story-sharing part, other activities for Day of Silence garnered warm support from the community. More than 100 students and faculty members filled out the signs stating their reasons for breaking the silence, which were then put up on the dining hall’s windows.

Many students decided to keep silent on Thursday, April 26, which symbolized the silenced LGBTQ+ community and aimed to make more people become aware of the significance of different voices.

Junior Glede Wang is the President of GSA and also participated in the “silence movement.”

“Day of Silence is not easy,” Glede said. “Keeping silent caused a lot of trouble. I had to type in my phone to order my omelet in the morning; I wasn’t able to say thank you when someone kept the door for me; I had to refrain myself from sharing funny stories with my friends.”

Glede, however, was determined to participate regardless of all the inconvenience. “I know what we do is worthy. 82% of LGBTQ youth experienced bullying, while at least 61% never dare to report it to school,” she said.

“For me, participating in Day of Silence is showing instead of saying ‘I stand with you,'” she said. “Action speaks louder than words. My message through silence is that I will give unconditional support to those who are in need to be brave and to break the silence. Day of Silence is for everyone to be reminded of how awful it will be if we loses all those wonderful voices in our campus.”

At the end of the school day on Thursday, many students circled around the lion on the quad to show their support. The gathering, Davey said, was “bigger, louder, greater” than last year. “It was a powerful moment. And I think it was my favorite moment of the day when we all linked hands and broke that silence together.”

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