by Kai W. & Kyle
A young woman walks down a school hallway. As she makes her way to her locker, she is whispered about, jeered at, yelled at and threatened. By the time she reaches her locker she is panicked and scared. The word dyke is written all over it. She is a target of bullying because she is being herself. But there are others like her, afraid of becoming a victim like she is. They walk on in silence.
For students all over the country, school, home and life is a battle. To come out and tell the world who they are could result in violence, bullying, homelessness and many other consequences. These students are told that they are freaks, that they are wrong, and that they are dangerous. These students are shrouded in lies and secrets and spend a lot of time in pain because they cannot explain who they are or talk about the things that are important to them without fear of ridicule. But these students haven’t done anything wrong. They aren’t weird or different. They are human beings. They are people with lives and hopes and dreams who might have to hide their identity because society won’t accept them. They are hiding because uninformed, scared people (including parents, peers, teachers and significant community members) act out against them. They are members of the LGBTQI community.
Day of Silence is a day-long nationwide event organized by the Gay, Lesbian, Straight, Education Network (GLSEN) to draw attention to the LGBTQI students who suffer through the silence and are afraid to come out and share who they really are. This Friday, April 15th, the Fifth Floor Students of Manhattan Country School will join students across the country in pledging a vow of silence for the day. Teachers will plan classes that will respect those taking the vow and students who elect not to be silent will be vocal supporters of their classmates. The silence will begin at 8:30 am and last until advisement when a representative from the New York Civil Liberties Union will come and speak to Fifth Floor students about the legal rights of LGBTQI students in schools. In keeping our mouths shut will we be speaking out on behalf of the students who cannot speak.
MCS’ participation in the Day of Silence is inspired by this year’s activism project SAFE: Schools Are For Everyone, an attempt by MCS Fifth Floor students to become more conscious of the power of our words, to raise awareness within the MCS community about how to take a stand against bullying, and to build partnerships with other New York City schools to create more safe spaces for all youth.