BY COLLEEN HUBER
Students across the University of Mary Washington campus took a vow of silence in recognition of the National Day of Silence, student-led action sponsored by Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network’s (GLSEN). Students across campus chose to remain silent for all or part of the day to bring attention to the harassment and discrimination that lesbian, gay and transgender youth face, according to Lambda Legal, an LGBT legal association.
People for the Rights of Individuals of Sexual Minorities (PRISM) hosted the event on Friday, April 11. At 11:50 p.m., PRISM and the participants of the event gathered on Ball Circle for the Breaking the Silence vigil.
UMW students, staff members, professors and alumni, all wearing Day of Silence shirts, stood on Ball Circle and joined hands for the vigil. According to Luke Battles, co-president of PRISM, participants stood in silence for 10 minutes until noon, when the bell tower rang.
“It’s so amazing that year after year everyone gets so excited for the Day of Silence, and it’s a great way for PRISM to continue building relationships between its student members and UMW faculty and staff,” said Battles.
A barbecue was held for the event at 4 p.m. on Ball Circle. The Day of Silence Barbeque offered typical picnic games, cornhole and giant checkers, as well as a table where students were able to take “silent selfies.” “Silent selfies” involved students writing their names and what they would do to end the silence toward LGBT bullying on a piece of paper and taking a picture with the paper, according to Battles.
There were also a number of performances at the barbecue. BellACappella, The Symfonics, One Note Stand, Enigma Colorgaurd, Voices of Praise, Alter Egos, a group of PAC dancers and a band formed by a few alumni called Paisley and Doorknobs all performed throughout the event.
“A few students even sang an impromptu performance of No Diggity by Blackstreet,” said Battles.
Battles believes that the day was a success and that the UMW community will continue to fight for LGBT rights.
“Overall, our event was fantastic and so much fun. We couldn’t have asked for more beautiful weather or for more wonderful and supportive members,” said Battles. “It’s really bittersweet that this year will be the last Day of Silence I will attend as a student, but I have total confidence in this brilliant community, and I know that future Day of Silence events will keep up the good work of promoting visibility, education, equality and empowerment for all members of the UMW Gender and Sexual Minorities and Allies community.”
BY COLLEEN HUBER