DOS 2013: Let’s Make Some Noise
Tomorrow, April 19th, marks the 18th annual Day of Silence and the third Day of Silence in my school, one of the 90,000 in the world that endorsed the initiative. Last year was the first time I participated actively, as a member of our tolerance club, Embrace, with the aim to turn a rather homophobic society into a more tolerant, united community. We in the Embrace club attempted to show our support and make the loudest noise of all – that of silence; but we were met with troubles, doubts, and resistance.
The Day of Silence is an initiative that started in 1996 in the US to raise awareness and educate people about school LGBTQ communities and how their members are harassed and bullied. It soon grew into an international cause, being supported by 70 countries around the world in 2012.
April 20th, 2012, the Day of Silence, wasn’t the most successful of days for those who organized the initiative in my school. We had made stickers for the supporters, we were ready to educate people with brochures about what we were doing and why we were doing it, we had signed up hundreds of students and teachers for the cause; that was the best part. But in finding how hard it was to be silent all day and not being able to respond to any of the insults that were being sent our way, we found the real challenge. One of my friends and I, the only two to wear “Silent” stickers in my class, were constantly offended throughout the day, the culmination being during Math class, when my friend was even reduced to tears. The Math teacher didn’t know what to do; the boy who offended us got away with it.
But after class, through notes on a piece of paper, I explained to our Math teacher why it was so important that we had a Day of Silence, why we weren’t speaking, and why my friend had gotten so emotional. I never thought he really understood until I saw that this year he has changed and with that, the atmosphere in his classroom has been dramatically altered. He’s still the coolest teacher in school, but he won’t let offensive language slide. When it comes to the boy, six months later, he’s not unrecognizable, but he’s definitely different. My friend and I, as vice-president and president of our school’s tolerance club, were trying to recruit new members for this school year and the boy kept joking that he wanted to join – except, in the end, he actually did. He now attends our meetings regularly and contributes to our club activities. Once one starts paying attention to what he says in class, a shift in attitude toward positivity can also be detected and, I hope, it’s for the better.
For more than a year, the tolerance club lead extensive education campaigns that culminated with the Day of Silence and even continued after. Despite our doubts and fears, it turned out that we were, indeed, changing minds all over the place – and we hope that we’ll do the same thing tomorrow and in the months and years to come. What will you do tomorrow to make some noise?