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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Students seal lips for Day of Silence

    Psychology junior Kat Peck speaks at a SPRITE club meeting about todays Day of Silence and how she will cope with not talking for an entire day.
    Psychology junior Kat Peck speaks at a SPRITE club meeting about today’s Day of Silence and how she will cope with not talking for an entire day.

    The annual Day of Silence and the annual Day of Truth will take opposing sides on the cultural issue of gay rights today in two national events meant to generate awareness of LGBT issues.

    “”(The Day of Silence is) important because it’s meant as a peaceful protest to harassment, bullying and discrimination that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (people) are subject to every day,”” said Larry Muth, a psychology junior and a member of Students Promoting Respect for Individuality Through Example.

    A study conducted by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network found that 64.3 percent of LGBT students reported feeling unsafe at school because of their sexual orientation.

    “”(Other students) didn’t care if they called someone a fag or dyke when they meant to say stupid; that was a problem I faced,”” Muth said. “”It can really be taxing on someone to hear that every day, whether it is your friends or your enemies.””

    Groups whose beliefs differ from those supporting the Day of Silence, such as Not Our Kids, claim that the Day of Silence pushes homosexual ideals onto children, but pro-Day of Silence officials say that is not what the day is about.

    “”One of the main reasons we work on Day of Silence is that you should feel safe on your campus,”” said Scott Lu, campus diversity project director at the U.S. Student Association, which is committed to breaking barriers in education.

    The Day of Silence is sponsored by GLSEN and asks participants to be silent for an entire day.

    The Day of Truth is sponsored by the Alliance Defense Fund and encourages participants to “”stand up for their First Amendment right to hear and speak the truth about human sexuality in order to protect that freedom for future generations,”” according to the Day of Truth Web site.

    “”Christian students will respectfully express their viewpoint just like the Day of Silence,”” said Greg Scott, a UA alumnus and spokesman for the ADF. “”These kids are not afraid to have that discussion.””

    Participants in the Day of Silence will communicate their cause by handing out cards or wearing signs that read:

    “”Please understand my reasons for not speaking today. I am participating in the Day of Silence, a national youth movement protesting the silence faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and their allies. My deliberate silence echoes that silence, which is caused by harassment, prejudice and discrimination. I believe that ending the silence is the first step toward fighting these injustices. Think about the voices you are not hearing today.””

    Likewise, the Day of Truth camp also has cards that read:

    “”I am speaking the truth to break the silence. I believe in equal treatment for all, and not special rights for a few. I believe in loving my neighbor, but part of that love means not condoning detrimental personal and social behavior. I believe that by boldly proclaiming the truth, hurts will be halted, hearts will be healed and lives will be saved.””

    SPRITE will be on the UA Mall at 10 a.m. to hand out more silence cards. At noon, there will be a silent lunch for participants. Silence will break at 5 p.m. with a pizza dinner.

    Though the Day of Truth does not have representation this year at the UA, more than 5,000 students are registered to participate nationally this year, Scott said.

    He said the organization has received a lot of anti-Day of Silence e-mails and protests have sprung up in the U.S.

    “”The Day of Silence is a disruptive event that requires students to be silent even during class or when the teacher is asking a question,”” Scott said. “”The Day of Truth is meant to be during non-instructional times at school.””

    But protests will not stop people at 700 college campuses and more than 4,000 high school and middle schools from zipping their lips for a day, Lu said.

    SPRITE anticipates that more than 50 students will participate in today’s event.

    “”Everyone’s welcome, everyone can participate,”” Muth said. “”These are students of all different sexual orientations, identities, expressions of their gender that are participating.””

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