I made some edits to make it more focused, and a little more informed and well-rounded.
I, being a straight, white female, am a person that speaks her mind, no matter what the consequences, but some people don’t get to indulge in that luxury.
On February 12, 2008, Lawrence King, an 8th grader from California was shot and killed by a classmate because of the mere fact that he was openly gay. 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. And this year is specially commemorated to Lawrence King. High schools and colleges all across the country have participated 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.
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 two weeks ago, “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. The director of the film actually contacted me and asked me “what exactly happened at the screening?”
Guess what? Nothing happened.
And we also 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. A friend of mine approached her freshman seminar teacher about starting an Amnesty International chapter at St. Martin’s. However, after doing some research on the background of the organization, which is solely for the purpose of human rights, her freshman seminar teacher told her that the school couldn’t start a chapter because the organization supported abortion in the case of rape. And yes, abortion is against the Catholic beliefs, but my friend’s mother was told many years ago when she was a practicing Catholic that she needed to get rid of a baby because she wasn’t married. The situation is never an ideal one, and not everyone needs to be held to certain standards.
Students who have the guts to go and ask for the permission to start certain clubs get shot down for seemingly unfounded reasons. We are adults that make our own choices, so everyone should get a fair chance to speak their mind.
I’m not trying to get into a religious debaucle, but the fact of the matter is—Catholicism has faced some pretty rough times in the past decade, with the child-molesting priests and whatnot, so to me, there’s already been enough moral ambiguity. The Catholic church has strict rules against abortion and homosexuality, so I understand why they wouldn’t want a Gay-Straight Alliance here, but Day of Silence isn’t asking people to go out and wave their rainbow flag for all to see, it’s just asking to acknowledge the injustice and the hate that goes on in our country against those of a sexuality other than straight. So even if you think that homosexuality is morally wrong, is it right for people to persecute anyone for being different? Wrath, one of the seven deadly sins, is defined as anger or hatred; and sloth, another of those sins, is defined as indifference or the unwillingness to care. 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.
In a way, students have been forced to keep quiet 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 denominational 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, 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. Our country was founded on a basis of freedom of speech. And all schools should abide by what the Founding Fathers originally drafted. It may be a private Catholic University, but St. Martins consists of people of every religion and every ethnic background, so censoring the students’ voices doesn’t help them at all for the future.
It is, in a way, ironic that people are too afraid to be stand up for something they believe in by staying silent, so they silence their opinions all together.