Symbolic silence raises awareness

Day of Silence on Friday was a way to get involved in movement against discrimination.
Sophomore Josh Barton reflects upon the Day of Silence and the Break the Silence Ceremony on Friday afternoon. Participants celebrated at The Heidelberg after the event.

The screams of cold yet energized students at Speaker's Circle echoed around campus Friday.

The screams signified the end of the Day of Silence, a nationally recognized event that brings awareness to the harassment and bullying of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer individuals. This year, the event was held in memory of Lawrence King, a 14-year-old Californian who was shot by a classmate in February because of his sexual orientation.

The screaming was part of the breaking the silence ceremony, one of the many events that Allies in Action, Triangle Coalition and Gamma Rho Lambda sorority hosted throughout the day. Other activities included a silent breakfast, a safe space lunch and a dinner at the Heidelberg.

The breaking the silence ceremony was the most symbolic part of the day, Gamma Rho Lambda President Ashley Price said.

Members of the three organizations, along with friends and fellow students, read 10 facts during the countdown to 5 p.m., when the silence was officially broken. Each statistic reiterated the silence that LGBTQ individuals face on a daily basis.

After the silence was broken, students spoke of their own personal thoughts from throughout the day and expressed what this experience has meant to them.

Triangle Coalition member Kelly Prinster, who participated in the day's events, attended the breaking the silence ceremony and has been involved in it for many years.

"I've been participating in this event since high school because it was the only thing that I had the opportunity to get involved in," Prinster said. "In my high school, some of my classrooms wouldn't even allow me to participate, and sometimes I was kicked out of class."

Prinster said this day is important because it brings attention to the problem of discrimination.

"The Day of Silence makes the point that this is still happening," Prinster said. "We still can't express ourselves without discrimination, and this day gets the word out about the silence that we face."

Prinster said the best part about this experience is just remaining silent, because it's harder than it seems.

"Remaining quiet all day is a big challenge," Prinster said. "Think about how often you speak in a day."

Allies in Action President Lance Pierce said the Day of Silence was very successful.

"We started off the day with breakfast at the LGBTQ Resource center, which attracted a lot of people into the center that hadn't been there before but identified as LGBTQ," Pierce said. "The center was full of people throughout the day, so I was really pleased with the turnout."

Price said she noticed many students wearing the T-shirts honoring King around campus in support of the Day of Silence, but not all attended the ceremony or other events.

Triangle Coalition President Josh Barton said although the cold weather kept some from participating, there was still a great group of committed participants who came out to break the silence.

Barton hopes those involved realize the importance of remaining vocal.

"It's important to always remain vocal and visible," Barton said. "The Day of Silence is a great way to get involved, but it's not the only way to get involved and have your voice heard against discrimination."

Pierce said he hopes participants have learned to be aware of the actions and the words that they use.

"Be conscious that not everyone is heterosexual," Pierce said. "You never know who identifies as an LGBTQ or who has a family member or a friend that is LGBTQ. Be aware of the way that you carry yourself and the way that you speak."

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