Friday, April 25, 2008

Symbols Matter: Day of Silence

Today is understood to be a Day of Silence, putting a spotlight on the way that LGBTQ people are some times bullied and teased about being LGBTQ, especially in the context of schools. Today, those who keep silent are a painful reminder of things past, in which many LGBTQ kept silent about who they are in the face of bullies. Yet today, the intentional silence is audible enough to let others know around us we will be silent no more. Today is a day to break through the veil of threats and no longer be silent. Break the silence.

Begun in 1996, this is a day that in many of our schools--private, public, elementary to colleges and universities (and hopefully seminaries)--LGBTQ people and those who are allies are silent. Some keep silence all day, while others are silent during lunch periods or recess. Some carry small cards explaining their silence, while others have put tape over their mouths to show in a demonstrable fashion that they are keeping silent this day.

This day in 2008, many are remembering Lawrence King who was killed by a bully because of issues regarding sexual orientation, e.g., because he was gay.

With my son having been bullied because he has an openly gay dad, with a book "out there" in the world talking about being a gay dad--and thus a gay family in many ways--I am more aware of the torment that not only LGBTQ students and teachers face in our schools, but our straight children as well.

Sometimes symbols matter and some times they really don't: flag pins, flags, crosses, logos, mascots, holding hands across America. However, being voluntarily, audibly silent in a chatty world matters, especially if it draws attention to the overt or covert bullying that goes on in this world--whether we are being bullied because we are LGBTQ, straight children of LGBTQ parents, disabled, of different ethnicity, nationality, heritage, economic class, academic games, because of gender, or religion. The twist is this: we shall be silent no more about any kind of bullying.



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