This was an article that I had to write for journalism class. It’s a civic journalism piece, dealing with justice. I originally was going to do an article about the overwhelming lack of recycling at this school, but I thought that this was way better of a topic. Notice the lack of title.
As I sat down to write this article, I considered making this piece a feature, where I’d interview students and professors and faculty members, but after I realized where I attended school, I knew that I wouldn’t be able to get balanced points of view. So I’m taking the time to educate people on something that they may have missed in high school or their years here at St. Martins—the Day of Silence.
On February 12, 2008, Lawrence King, an 8th grader from California was shot and killed by a classmate because of his sexual expression. Hate crimes happen every day, and the Day of Silence is one way that schools have taken part in the issue of hate crimes, not only for the LGBT community, but for all people. On April 25, 2008, this year’s Day of Silence, those in support for the people who have to stay silent about themselves choose not to speak. High schools and colleges all across the country have been participating in the Day of Silence since 1996, when 150 students at the University of Virginia turned the idea into action.
Each year, the Day of Silence is directly sponsored by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) and the United State Student Association (USSA), and in 2006, the GLSEN estimated that 450,000 students from 4,000 schools participated and actively stayed silent.
Since my 8th grade year, I’ve been a friend to many gay and lesbian students, and just recently, I registered as a straight ally of those people of the LGBT community. In high school, our Gay-Straight Alliance started our school’s participation in the Day of Silence my sophomore year. Since then, the GSA grew to be the second-largest student organization at my high school. My junior year, 3 days after the Day of Silence, a group of students organized what they called the “Day of Truth” in direct response to the Day of Silence, opposing the right to gay marriage saying that people need to make the right choice and follow the “natural” way of things. There was an enormous controversy over the “protest of the protest” that year, in the case of going against the school’s hate speech rules. Also, since the Day of Truth is solely based on the conservative Christian view, it was also going against the rules of religion in school. And the next year, there was no Day of Truth at our school, however, the Day of Truth has happened every year nationwide since 2005.
Being a Catholic University, I can see why our school doesn’t have a GSA, because of the overwhelming Christian community, but based on this observation, I noticed that many clubs have endured injustice. For example, our Young Republicans club showed a film last week, “The Suicide Killers” and because of the matter that movie dealt with, the University decided to send a police officer to babysit the students as they watched the movie, because they didn’t want a riot breaking out like at Evergreen several months ago. And also, we have a Pro-Life club, but no Pro-Choice club to counteract the opinions and create intelligent dialogue between those students who believe the contrary to the Pro-Lifers.
In a way, students have been forced to be silent about their views on many issues for fear of religious persecution. Personally, I’m a pro-choice, pro-gay rights democrat who doesn’t participate in any denomination of religion, so maybe I’m coming from a biased opinion, but if college is a place where we’re supposed to get a full and balanced education, I don’t see that happening here right now.
I do wish that all clubs could get a fair chance, especially the yet not established GSA, but the fact that there are so few of those students who share the same views as I, it’s difficult to bring the issue fully to light.
It’s ironic, in a way, where people are too afraid to be silent so they stay silent about it. And as someone who believes in the general principles of Christianity—that Jesus was the Son of God and he died on the cross for our sins—I think that hate crimes are completely against any good Christian’s beliefs. Wrath, which is defined as anger or hatred, is one of the seven deadly sins; and sloth, defined as indifference or the unwillingness to care, is another. So even if you’re one of those people who don’t commit hate crimes, the fact that you don’t do anything about it is almost just as bad.
I’m not saying that if you participate in the Day of Silence that you have to wave a huge rainbow flag and get a pink triangle patched to your sleeve, but you need acknowledge those who don’t have that option, those who are made fun of because of who they choose to love, or worse, killed for expressing themselves.
Because hate crimes aren’t right, no matter if someone thinks that those being picked on aren’t right in the eyes of God.