Get loud and proud

Let’s talk about sex(uality)

It’s that time of year again. On April 17, the halls will fill up with students sporting rainbow wristbands, small notecards and fluorescent stickers. Passing periods will be a little quieter, teachers will marvel at how peaceful their pupils can be, and kids will have a decent excuse to miss out on their oral language examinations. That’s right—it’s the Day of Silence.

This day is supposed to call attention to the treatment of LGBTQIA individuals. However, it is misdirected and simply not helpful. The Day of Silence brings up important topics, but because of its counterintuitive nature, none of these topics are dealt with verbally. Like the shiny rainbow wristbands, they’re coveted for a few days and then recycled and forgotten.

There is so much to discuss in terms of LGBTQIA underrepresentation in this school, so much that I can hardly even list the important topics in this small space. I could discuss the scarcity of gender neutral bathrooms and locker rooms for transgender students, I could skim over the heteronormative literature in classrooms that perpetuate the man-woman relationship ideal, I could argue  the necessity of all-sexuality encompassing sex-ed, or I could rant about the absence of any sort of asexuality education ANYWHERE. However, I would not be able to do justice to any one of those topics in a sentence or two. The fact is that the LGBTQIA community exists but is not acknowledged whatsoever. That is an inherent problem within our school system, and reflects a bigger issue with this country as a whole.

Many will argue that the Day of Silence is better than nothing. This may be true, but without helpful discussion to facilitate the events of the day, little will be achieved. The rights and treatment of those who do not identify as straight or cis-gender or whatever we consider “normal” are topics that are not as easy to breach. Just because a topic is difficult to discuss doesn’t mean we shouldn’t discuss it. Hard conversations are usually important ones.

On Day of Silence website, the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network states, “Make sure to follow-up your participation with further discussion with your school on how to make changes.” Alone, the Day of Silence puts issues of these students further in the dark. However, paired with open discussion on how to make school a safer environment for all, the Day of Silence could be instrumental in improving our school. I hope that the Day of Silence ultimately leads to a cacophony of solutions.