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Day of Silence spreads awareness on anti-LGBT harassment

By: Anna Anguiano, Staff Reporter

April 15 was the annual Day of Silence, bringing awareness to the anti-lesbian gay bi-sexual transgender (LBGT) harassment and bullying that some experience. Dominican was one of many schools throughout the nation to participate. The Day of Silence has been sponsored by Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) since 2001 and was organized at Dominican by members of Common Ground, Dominican’s Gay and Straight alliance.

Common Ground advanced their mission of educating people on the history and social issues that impact the LGBT community, both within and outside Dominican, by hosting a Day of Silence.  Those who choose to participate in a Day of Silence abstained from speaking to bring attention to the pain members of the LGBT community feel when they are silenced by bullies.

“The point of Day of Silence is to bring attention to the harassment and bullying of LGBT students,” Kara Williams, secretary of Common Ground, said. “By organizing a Day of Silence event at Dominican, we hope to bring attention to these issues to the campus, and to have people show support for our cause.”

Members of Common Ground provided participants with speaking cards, which explain why that student was talking. The speaking cards along with other publicity material and instructions were provided by GLSEN, which sponsors Day of Silence and other events such as No-Name calling week.

GLSEN’s goal is to provide safety in schools for all students, regardless of their sexual orientation, by teaching people to respect everyone. In addition to the cards, duct tape was provided for those students who wanted to put it over their mouths to show visual support for the cause.

Even with these cards and duct tape, members of Common Ground explained the day was difficult, especially with school duties.

Corinne Zimmerman, president of Common Ground, has participated in Day of Silence for two years in a row. She says that most professors have been supportive because she had previously explained to them her reason for not speaking. Yet, she has also gotten strange looks from those who didn’t understand, Zimmerman said.

“In the past, I have dressed in all black clothes using words written on duct tape to express times in which I have been silenced,” Zimmerman said. “This is my own interpretation of the event and how I have decided to break my silence because I refuse to have those words hurt me.”

Luis Garay, the vice president of Common Ground, said he hoped the Day of Silence serves as a reminder to everyone that being bystanders to bullying is wrong.

“Others can help bring attention to any anti-LGBT sentiment by taking a stand and stopping it,” Garay said. “Being an innocent bystander and not doing anything condones any negative sentiments.”

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