GSA speaks out with ‘Silence’

April 30, 2008

by Casey Ardoin

The Gay Straight Alliance invited students to participate in Tech’s Day of Silence, which was held Tuesday.

Amanda Carley, president of GSA and a senior mathematics major, said the Day of Silence is part of a national event.

“The Day of Silence is a national youth movement protesting the silence faced by gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender [GLBT] individuals and their allies,” Carley said.

According to the official Day of Silence Web site, www.dayofsilence.org, this year’s event will be held in memory of Lawrence King, an eighth-grader from California who was shot and killed in February by a classmate because of his sexual orientation.

Carley said those who participated in the event stayed silent from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. to raise awareness about discrimination.

“Participants stay silent for the day to reflect the silence caused by harassment, prejudice and discrimination,” she said. “By staying silent, people raise awareness about this silence, as well as acknowledge that this is a real problem faced by GLBT individuals.”

Sara Blanchard, vice president of GSA and a senior communication design major, has participated in the event since The Day of Silence began at Tech two years ago and said the event supports those who are afraid to speak out themselves.

“Staying silent helps show that there are people who cannot speak about GLBT issues themselves,” Blanchard said.
“The Day of Silence brings more awareness about the issues of silence, and the fact that there are more people than most think [who] cannot speak out for themselves or their loved ones.”

She said there are many ways students can help speak out against discrimination.

“Other ways of speaking out would be to show support. [Don’t] use language that could be viewed as derogatory, or make someone feel as if you are putting them down,” she said. “[Don’t] condone crude jokes about the GLBT community, and just [be] friendly.”

Carley said the GSA also helped people show support by handing out information and selling T-shirts.

“We [sold] shirts that say ‘gay? fine by me’ so that people all over campus can show their acceptance of the GLBT community,” she said. “[At the vigil,] the GSA [showed] a PowerPoint and Flash video about GLBT discrimination, and we [held] an open-mic for people to talk about their experiences and opinions related to the silence.”

The silence was broken at 7 p.m. outside Tolliver Hall, where there was a candle light vigil and presentation.

Cristina Comingore, a graduate student of biology, has participated in the Day of Silence for four years.

“I choose to stay silent, not only for the silence imposed on myself as a member of the GLBT community, but [also] for all people silenced by oppression, hatred and bigotry,” she said. “My silence for the day may not impact that many people, but it will get some individuals to think about the problem of silence.”