National Day of Silence
Yesterday, students across the U.S. and in Rhode Island participated in National Day of Silence, taking an oath of silence for a day or part of a day to bring attention to the harassment of gays and lesbians.
From the Providence Journal:
… at least 29 public and private high schools participated in Rhode Island. This year’s event honored Lawrence King, a 15-year-old California student who was shot and killed in February by a classmate because of King’s sexual orientation.
At Feinstein, students and a smattering of teachers wore gray T-shirts that said, “Silence is the most powerful scream” and “58,000 — the number of homophobic slurs you’ll hear by the time you graduate from high school.”
The Day of Silence challenged students to think about their own behavior. When a classmate uses an anti-gay slur, do you speak out and run the risk of being ridiculed or harassed or do you remain silent?
While expressing indifference to orientation and “what people do in the bedroom”, WPRO’s Matt Allen in his show today questioned whether schools should not be more focused on the three r’s. In response, a teacher called in to defend the exercise and point out that participation by students was voluntary.
Let us now separate out the matter of orientation. The issue is not whether gays of all ages should live free of harassment; of course they should. Questions raised pertain rather to the mechanism or authority by which such a day in our secondary public schools was arranged: who decided that, phrasing this as positively as possible, students would be availed of the opportunity to participate in such a day of recognition and also ensured that the student population was made aware of the details of this opportunity? What was the criteria by which the cause to be championed was selected?
These details are important as questions in their own right. But answers to them are requisite also to a compilation of a list of proposed Days of Silence. (Additions to the list are welcome.)
– In tolerance of religion.
– For promotion of the qualities of hard work and responsibility.
– Encouraging respect and recognition of the hard work and sacrifice of men and women in our military.
– For awareness and prevention of teen pregnancy.
– And the corollary to that last: in recognition of the importance of the father in a child’s life.
Participation would be voluntary, of course. To whom do we submit our list?