May 022014

Lawrence Academy’s Gay Straight Alliance (GSA) sponsored a “Day of Silence” on campus several weeks ago, on April 11, as part of a national student-led action sponsored by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN).

The Day of Silence is to recognize LGBT students who do not have a voice because of bullying and hate speech used in the community,” faculty advisor Dina Mordeno said. “The act of not speaking creates a communication challenge and limits the perspectives in the conversation. If it is frustrating, that is the point. If it is limiting, that is the point,” Mordeno explained. “The students were not silent as a symbol or to reflect on sadness or in sympathy. Instead, the Day of Silence is a day of action to illustrate the silencing effect of LGBT biased name-calling, bullying, and harassment in schools.”

More than 270 students – who were joined by many faculty and staff members – signed up for the event, which kept the noise on the Quad and Powderhouse Road to a minimum.

“Overall, the day was peaceful and positive. The silence made everyone more thoughtful and focused for the day. Whether participating or not, at the beginning of the day everyone was silent and the dismissal from Friday’s all-school assembly was absolutely quiet. And throughout the day, students did their best to remain silent. By midday some had broken the pledge, but kept the stickers on for solidarity and support for those who maintained not speaking. I thought this gesture was a sign of a caring and supportive community,” Mordeno said.

The students agreed.

“It was incredible to see so many students participating and showing their support,” Andrew Fyffe said. “It was really eye-opening being in the dining hall, where I normally can’t hear my thoughts, and being able to hear silverware touching the plate. I am so grateful for the people who participated and the magnitude of the support shown.”