Sit back and enjoy the silence!
On April 22, the halls of Ben Lomond High School were a bit quieter as some students participated in the National Day of Silence. In the 1950s, we saw a civil rights movement with blacks; today, it is happening with gays and it is very hard for some people to go through. Living in the conservative state of Utah makes it even harder to be openly gay.
In February, I received an invitation to participate in the National Day of Silence. I made the decision to become the school organizer and to make our school one of the few that observed this day, which is held to call attention to name-calling, harassment and bullying toward gays and others.
I arranged a meeting with the school administration and presented them with ideas and information on the events. After a week or two the administration consulted me and gave me the news that our school would observe the day.
I had good and bad experiences with the Day of Silence. It was very hard to put it all together, and it was very difficult to persuade some staff and students to go along with it. It was also hard for not only myself, but for everyone to stay silent for the whole day. I accidentally talked a few times throughout the day without even meaning to.
My goal was for at least half of the more than 1,000-student school to wear red and to have at least 35 participate in the silent lunch. We were far from close to our 500 student goal of wearing red, but we had more than 40 people participate in the silent lunch.
I was very satisfied with the outcome of how many stayed silent during lunch, and I hope for next year's participation to be much larger. However, some people who weren't participating were very confused and judgmental, which showed that I did not do enough to spread the news about the Day of Silence.
Red balloons and a sign that read "Silence the Harassment" were brought in during lunch to draw the eye of students, and we also released the balloons at the end of the day.
I think the day opened the eyes of students and helped the community understand the growing problem of not only harassment of gays, but harassment of all. The Day of Silence calls for a peaceful way of solving this problem.
Toward the end of the event many participants gave me letters of appreciation and shared their experiences from taking part in the event. One said that they had a blast participating and that they will never forget the experience.
For me, the day meant peace and hope. Hope that our society can one day be equal, and that all can be accepted. The Day of Silence is a great start to reaching this type of society.
Austin Miller is a junior at Ben Lomond High School. E-mail him at email@example.com.