I work on a college campus, and in the last week, I’ve seen, stuck in amidst the study-abroad posters and “Summer Jobs 4 The Environment!” flyers, a number of promotional images and emails about the National Day of Silence, scheduled for Friday the 16th of April.
The NDS is sponsored by the Gay Lesbian and Straight Education Network, and is meant “to bring attention to anti-LGBT name-calling, bullying and harassment in schools” by encouraging students to take a vow of silence (to the degree that one can and/or is willing).
I think we can all agree that gay-bashing is a still a problem–and not just on college campuses–and since students on my campus are not, in my experience, terribly politically active or aware, so I’m glad to see that any attempt at social activism, but I can’t help but wonder if staying mute is really the best strategy here. Shouldn’t we as LGBTQ people and allies be speaking out against this stuff? I mean, I get the symbolism, sort of: queer kids are silenced/closeted/bullied, so this is a way to be all “I am Spartacus,” but to borrow from ACT-UP, another group dedicated to equality, doesn’t SILENCE = DEATH?
The DOS blog notes that there are multiple ways to support their cause and draw attention to the problem, and they recommend tweeting, and writing notes and so forth. So…not silence? I’m confused as to the reasons and the effectiveness. I support their cause, wholeheartedly, but I’m uncertain about the efficacy of their methods. (And the open-mouth logo? Wha?)
I don’t teach on Fridays, so I won’t be there to see if/how it goes down on my campus, but I’d love to hear from our readers if they’ve had any experience with the National Day of Silence. How did it work? What response did you garner? And what do you make of this tactic?