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Gay Straight Alliance fights silence with silence Friday

GSA’s National Day of Silence Program will be Friday. GSA will hold their main program on the Pedestrian Mall between Ashley and West Hall from 4 to 6 p.m.
“Specifically, the Day of Silence is to ‘break the silence’,” Doel Parilla, GSA President, says. “Hundreds of thousands of people all over the U.S. choose to do it, as a message against anti-LGBT (Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals, and Transsexuals) language discrimination, bullying and assault. It draws attention to the hate crimes.”
According to the 2007 National School Climate Survey, “86.2% of LGBT students report being verbally harassed (called names, threatened, etc.) [and] 44.1% of LGBT students report being physically harassed (being shoved, pushed, etc.) because of their sexual orientation.”
The Day of Silence is a memorial day to honor LGBT people who have been harassed or murdered for their sexual orientation and identity. By remembering those who have fallen under the crack of the whip of harsh words or physical abuse, the Day of Silence acts as the silent reminder that anti-LGBT violence happens.
According to the Day of Silence Organizing Manual, the Day of Silence started at the University of Virginia in 1996 with over 150 students participating. In 1997, that number grew from 150 students to 100 colleges. By 2008, hundreds of thousands from students from over 8,000 educational institutions, including not only colleges and universities, but K-12 schools as well, were active in observing the Day of Silence.
On a more local level, the VSU GSA plans to observe the Day of Silence by doing T-shirt painting outside in the sun.
“People can come up to our table and paint a shirt,” Parilla says. “They can send any kind of message that they want to. They can wear them, too; we don’t want to hang them up because we don’t want to take away from Sexual Awareness Month—if we get a lot of people involved, hopefully this will become a campus-wide event. This will actually be the first time GSA will host a Day of Silence in two years.”
“I think it’s a really important cause,” Olivia La Selva, first-year art major, says. “People should definitely participate.”
According to Parilla, along with T-shirt painting, there will be about 50 people who will remain silent as they hand out flyers to show their commitment to the event.
“RHA is also giving us a few people to help out,” Parilla says. “It’s a really important event for GSA.”

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