Canton High School’s Day of Silence

Breaking the silence - photograph by Drew DiPippo

BY SHIAN EARLINGTON

On Friday April 21, students from Canton High School grades 9-12 had the opportunity to participate in the National Day of Silence.   

Originally, this day was established by a group of students from the University of Virginia in 1996. This event is a student led day of action that sheds light on the bullying and harassment that LGBTQ+ teens may face on a day to day basis in school and other public places.   

The Day of Silence at CHS is set aside each year for students to raise awareness and understanding of  the injustices that LGBTQ+ youth and their allies face by society. Their struggles were demonstrated by Canton High School’s students who chose to be silent.

This was an all day event that started the moment students came into school. Canton High School participants were greeted by student volunteers, English Department Chair Ruth Kidwell, and Social Studies Teacher Jennifer Gembala.

Both student participants and facilitators were given placards to wear for the duration of the day, stating why they were choosing to be silent. The purpose of wearing the placard was to bring to light and attention to “ the silence faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people and their allies in school’s”.  

At the end of the day, a ‘break the silence’ celebration was held in Canton High School’s auditorium. All those who participated joined into one immense circle to officially break the silence together while holding hands. Students shouted, laughed and rejoiced with whatever words came to mind upon speaking again. Students then split into assigned student-led groups to reflect and talk about how their day went in school, followed by a whole group celebration of the day.  

Students shared how the experience of walking in a peer’s shoes for a day in school was an eye- opening experience that enlightened them and others about how  many LGBTQ+ teens and their allies feel on a daily basis.