April 21, 2017 is the GLSEN Day Of Silence. For those of you who don’t know what the Day of Silence is, I’ll explain. GLSEN stands for the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network. Their Day of Silence has been happening since 1996 and it is a day where middle school, high school and college students can stay silent to support the LGBTQIA+ community. I have participated in this since I was in seventh grade. This year, the focus was on transgender and gender non-conforming people.
On Friday, April 21, I went to Silas, one of my school’s Gender and Sexuality Alliance (GSA) leaders, to get my stuff. Throughout the day, people asked what I was supporting and why I was supporting it. I showed them the card Silas had made for those participating. We wore red and a safety pin as well, so we would be easily recognized.
Most of the teachers understood why we were silent. A few of them didn’t know about it at all. By the time eighth period came, lots of students asked me why I was supporting this. My answer was this: I’m bi and questioning my gender, and I need to stand up for the people who can’t and/or need help from a peer. During Quality Resource Time (QRT) our GSA met to break the silence. It was then that I realized how many people took part in this day.
During QRT that day, I realized that Day of Silence united our GSA and helped fellow students understand why we were supporting it. I became closer with people who I thought of as acquaintances. I also realized that a lot of the teachers at my school do support us. Our administration notified the teachers the day before the event that some of us would be participating in it and it was on the morning announcements.
I knew I was different since grade school. I never knew about sexual orientation, gender identity, GSAs, Day of Silence and other LGBT things until middle school. My dad’s family is very conservative and religious, hence the reason I’m not out to them. They tried to keep me from discovering this. I struggled throughout middle school with my sexuality and the only one who knew was my best friend Josh. When I found out about Day of Silence, I knew it was something I could support without being yelled at by my dad’s family.
Day of Silence represents all the years that I have not known my true self. I think that before I learned about Day of Silence that I just didn’t have a way to participate in the LGBTQ community without getting backlash from someone. Day of Silence has changed me for the better and helped me realize things do get better. My GSA in school has helped me realize people care.
For me, participating in the Day of Silence is something that I feel I need to do to show my support for people in a situation like mine. After doing this for 4 years already, I have learned that teachers care more than we believe they do. The people you least expect to understand, they will listen to you and try to console you. From my experience, Day of Silence has united me with people who I thought I would never be able to get along with or understand.
Day of Silence is a success every year. Each year I participate, I feel that I achieve something great. I was happy to see that so many of my school’s GSA members participated. I am happy that we can have our freedom of speech in school and have the support of our school’s administration and staff. This shows that we are changing at a pace that will soon have us getting more and more opportunities.
Here’s my advice to people suffering a situation similar to mine. Tell someone you trust that won’t tell anyone. Go to meetings in your city for the LGBTQIA+ community. Use the internet to get in touch with others. A site I recommend for help is, www.emptyclosets.com. On this website, the community will help you. For all the young people reading this, I believe we can make a change. If you don’t feel comfortable opening up to anyone, or are unsure, think about it for a while. Together, we can make changes happen.
Winter Epicene is a bisexual teenager who is grasping her sexuality. They write for their high school’s newspaper at times and find fun in writing in a journal.
This article originally appeared on QueerPgh.com. This article is preserved as a part of the Q Archives project. Please consider donating to help preserve Pittsburgh’s Queer history.