This Friday, April 16th marks the 14th annual Day of Silence, that has grown to be largest student-led action towards the awareness of the harassment of LGBT youth in the nation. Students of all ages take an Oath of Silence, giving up their speaking privilege to experience the silencing that youth face for their sexual identity, gender identity, gender expression or perceived sexual identity. Allies to the LGTB community are able to confront similar struggles that LGTB youth face once their ability to speak is given up. The Oath of Silence is day long and difficult to accomplish because of this challenge a button campaign to show visibility of the day's action has been established on our campus. The Queer Student Union at UC Santa Cruz programmed various events on the week Day of Silence fell on naming it "Queer Awareness Week," with a Town Hall meeting to address the issues of hate/racism/homophobia currently facing the University of California system and also hosting social events to break the silence such as a "Free Zone Lounge: Queereoke" to end the weeks efforts. This came with another effort to disperse "Queer Bomb" t-shirts, a tactic from UC Santa Barbara Queer Student Union to show visibility of the LGBT community that can be used at events/public spaces to make them a Safe Space when numerous individuals wear them.
Small or large, any effort on any campus is necessary to address the social injustices and campus climates of academic institutions that need to be comfortable and safe learning environments. This is why when the USSA and GLSEN came together in 2001, in order to support Day of Silence efforts in colleges and universities campuses to ensure that everyone could play a part of becoming agents of positive change.
- By Nestor Rivera, USSA National Queer Student Coalition Chair and University of California, Santa Cruz student