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Students’ silence supports gay rights

From left to right, Rob O’Brien, Marisca Mozeleski, Helen Pendergast, Josh Ferreir, Colin Supplee, Calen Winn and Shane Kelly took part in the Day of Silence at Vashon High School. Above, they sit together at lunch. - Amelia Heagerty/staff photo
From left to right, Rob O’Brien, Marisca Mozeleski, Helen Pendergast, Josh Ferreir, Colin Supplee, Calen Winn and Shane Kelly took part in the Day of Silence at Vashon High School. Above, they sit together at lunch.
— image credit: Amelia Heagerty/staff photo

More than a third of all Vashon High School students took part in the national Day of Silence April 17, showing their support for the school’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning (LGBTQ) community by refraining from speaking all day.

They wore stickers indicating their level of participation: completely silent, silent unless speaking was necessary or speaking but supportive of the day’s actions.

Those who chose silence, said teacher Marcella Murphy, did so “because gay and lesbian students feel silenced by their peers. They feel they can’t speak out on who they really are because they feel harassed or bullied.”

The event raises awareness of the LGBTQ community at Vashon High School and nationwide, said Murphy, advisor of the school’s Gay Straight Alliance, which sponsored the event.

More than 100,000 students across the country take part in the national Day of Silence, according to its Web site. Organizers of the day hope to call attention to and stamp out anti-LGBTQ name-calling, bullying and harassment.

Founded in 1996 in Virginia, the Day of Silence is today the largest student-led action toward creating a discrimination-free school zone, according to the site.

“My silence is a necessary reminder of the numerous gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning youth who feel afraid to speak out against the anti-gay harassment they face on a daily basis,” wrote Calen Winn, one of the students remaining silent, when asked about his participation.

He added that he was encouraged by the high level of support in the school. More than 200 students wore stickers showing their support of the LGBTQ community.

Last year, about 100 students participated in the event, he said.

“It’s refreshing to see that people care enough to show solidarity,” he wrote.

 

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