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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Day of Silence gives voice to LGBT

Will+Ferguson%2F+Arizona+Daily+Wildcat%0A%0ACynthia+Lee%2C+a+public+health+and+business+economics+senior%2C+observes+a+day+of+silence+in+honor+of+persecuted+members+of+the+LGBTQ+community.+The+event+was+hosted+by+the+Pride+Alliance+on+the+UA+mall+on+Wed.+April+18%2C+2012.
Will Ferguson
Will Ferguson/ Arizona Daily Wildcat Cynthia Lee, a public health and business economics senior, observes a day of silence in honor of persecuted members of the LGBTQ community. The event was hosted by the Pride Alliance on the UA mall on Wed. April 18, 2012.

Five, four, three, two, one…

Shouts and cheers rang across the UA Mall as the Day of Silence, hosted by the Associated Students of the University of Arizona Pride Alliance, came to an end. Those with duct tape over their mouths removed it and were allowed to speak once again.

“The duct tape reminded me I had to stay silent, and it reminded me how confining silence can be,” said Ben Griffith, a creative writing sophomore and intern with Pride Alliance. “Especially if there’s something you want to say or impart to other people, but can’t. And I can relate to that pretty strongly.”

The Day of Silence, which officially began at 10 a.m. and lasted until 5:30 p.m., aimed to help raise awareness about bullying and harassment against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students in schools. Although the national Day of Silence will take place Friday, Pride Alliance held the event Wednesday in order to increase visibility.

“You can put up as many posters as you want, but no one is forced to read them,” said Christina Bischoff, co-director of Pride Alliance. “But when you’re in a class and there’s a dozen people staying silent, you’re forced to confront the silence and educate yourself in some way.”

On the Mall, students could sign a board and vow their silence for the day. This helped bring attention to the silence experienced by some LGBT students, attendees said, due to bullying and harassment. By the event’s end, more than 50 signatures were on the board.

Other campus groups joined Pride Alliance to help educate attendees and participants. Advocates Coming Together, a group of students living in campus residence halls who fight for social justice to create change, set up a “Raise Your Voice” photo shoot. At the shoot, each student posed and held up a different a social justice message.

“Events like these will help, because it will allow more people within the LGBT community feel comfortable with being open about who they are, seeing as how there is support out there,” said Allora Arnold, a plant sciences sophomore who said she has participated in the Day of Silence since seventh grade.

When the silence was broken, students and organization members spoke with one another about their experiences throughout the day.

“Regardless of what kind of statement it is, just having someone there to represent the LGBTQ group is important for people to see we’re not just characters on TV or in books,” said Greg Daniels, a pre-public health junior and a second semester intern with Pride Alliance. “We’re people. We’re students.”

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