What would a day without LGBTQ+ voices sound like at Marblehead High School? On Wednesday, April 14, the MHS Gender Sexuality Alliance (GSA) raised this question, organizing a Day of Silence to protest the bullying and harassment that Queer students regularly face. Emulating the LGBTQ+ erasure that bullying promotes, many students pledged to remain silent during the school day, while others signed on as vocal supporters, speaking in solidarity with silent participants.
GSA member Marv Worrick helped to organize the Day of Silence and served as a silent participant. “As a non-binary person who is also gay, I feel proud to be standing with the rest of the LGBTQ+ community who do get bullied,” Worrick said. “I have been lucky enough to not experience bullying in school due to my gender or sexuality, but now I know what being unheard feels like.”
Sophomore Valerie DiScipio also helped to organize the event, which she said “has been in the works for two or three years.” She confirmed that “everyone in GSA contributed at least a little bit to the plan… and pitched in to help make this day go as smooth as possible.” Teacher and former GSA Advisor Thomas Higgins commended students on their bravery, saying that he hopes participants know “how proud [he is] of them for speaking their truth.”
Neither Worrick nor DiScipio cite personal instances of bullying as motivation for their leadership on the Day of Silence, DiScipio saying that “as someone in the LGBTQ+ community who hasn’t experienced a large amount of bullying/harassment, [she feels] it is [her] duty to help those that aren’t able to help themselves.” Underneath the celebration of the LGBTQ+ community that Day of Silence represents, participants still acknowledge that the school must work towards further acceptance. “I think we’re in a better space,” said Mr. Higgins, comparing the climate at MHS today to intolerance from years past. “Is it a perfect space, no… I think there’s still barriers.” Yet he commends the club for organizing this civil protest and continuing to knock down these walls while working through the pandemic.
Organizers agreed that students learned something from the day. “I know a lot of people’s issue with the Day of Silence was that they felt like it encouraged people to be silent, when in reality it’s about bringing awareness to the bullying and harassment that happens to countless LGBTQ+ people on a daily basis,” said DiScipio. “I hope that what people take away from the Day of Silence is that we are all deserving of acceptance. After all, we’re all human.”
Worrick would label the day as “a very powerful experience,” saying that remaining silent through all their classes “was hard at times, [but] it just shows everyone how quiet the school community would be if these very important voices weren’t heard at all.”
Headlight thanks the Gender Sexuality Alliance for organizing the 2021 MHS Day of Silence, and we celebrate every student who served as a silent participant or vocal supporter. To learn more about the Day of Silence, please visit www.glsen.org/day-of-silence.