Students stay silent in protest of bigotry

In the United States, where many disenfranchised groups have won legal recognition through civil rights activism, the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Qestioning community is still fighting for its dignity, respect and lives. According to

In the United States, where many disenfranchised groups have won legal recognition through civil rights activism, the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Qestioning community is still fighting for its dignity, respect and lives. According
to the Human Rights Campaign, the largest LGBTQ equal rights organization in the United States, 84 percent of LGBTQ individuals felt personally threatened or harassed because of their sexual orientation last year.

In response, Temple Common Ground, the only campus LGBTQ advocacy group, will bring the National Day of Silence to Main Campus for a third year. The student-run event is held every year on the third Wednesday of April.

Eleven years ago, the Day of Silence was created at the University of Virginia, where 150 LGBTQ and allied students took a vow of silence in defiance of the bigotry, prejudice, violence and silence LGBTQ individuals face. Since its inception, the Day of Silence has grown into the largest student-run event in the United States. It is practiced at middle schools, high schools and universities all over the country.

“Every year, more people become aware,” said Deborah Hinchey, president of Temple College Democrats.

In 2005, members of Common Ground hosted Temple’s first National Day of Silence event. They were the only participants. But this year, the organization reached out to work with other student groups, said Deanna Wozniak, vice president of archives for Common Ground.

“[LGBTQ individuals] are silenced by society. They’re silenced by the media,” the sophomore biology major said. “It’s still very much a problem, even in the most liberal of cities. It’s literally everywhere.”

With the help of TCD and Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life, Common Ground hopes to open up the event to all students on campus, Wozniak said, adding that she plans to make the event bigger with each coming year to extend support
for LGBTQ individuals on campus and in the community.

The Day of Silence also serves as a memorial for victims of hate crimes, such as Matthew Shepherd, a 21-year-old University of Wyoming student who was burned, beaten and left to die in 1998 because of his sexual preference.

Incidents like Shepherd’s murder, incessant bullying and other forms of discrimination have been catalysts for a national recognition and protest of hate crimes against LGBTQ students.

The Day of Silence will officially begin this Wednesday morning at 7:30 a.m. on Main Campus. Participating students must remain silent from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. Students will receive speaking cards they can distribute to professors, family and friends, informing them of why they are remaining silent. Faculty and staff who would like to participate in the event, but cannot remain silent while doing their jobs will receive orange ribbons, which they can wear to show their support of the day. Throughout the day, Common Ground, TCD and Hillel will be making pamphlets, T-shirts, posters, buttons and stickers at the Bell Tower. Some members of these student organizations will put on skits to illustrate the plight of LGBTQ students.

There will also be speakers from other gay rights advocacy groups in the Philadelphia area. Myra Taksa, speakers bureau chair for the Philadelphia chapter of Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, is scheduled to speak.Taksa, who is also associate director of Computer Services and a longtime civil rights activist, is the proud parent of a gay son. She said she is honored to speak on behalf of the Day of Silence.

“As a parent, I cannot understand how there can be discrimination against my child or anybody else’s child,” Taksa said. “People are people and should all be treated equally.”

Taksa said the problems LGBTQ individuals face cross gender lines, race, ethnicity and religion. She added that if people truly understood LGBTQ individuals, they could eventually be able to accept them.

It is a big question for LGBTQ students, whether to reveal themselves to family, friends and in the workplace.

“It’s a scary place; it’s very difficult,” she said. Those in the LGBTQ are the only ones left in the United States that can be legally fired, evicted and overall discriminated against, Taksa said. Both Taksa and Wozniak said they believe the National Day of Silence is a step towards ending that discrimination.

“By calling [Temple] a diverse university, we need to recognize that we do have this other group that is very much minimalized
on this campus,” Wozniak said. She added that the Day of Silence is to remind people about the problem of homophobia and heterosexism and to bring awareness to a “fringe group” that is often pushed aside.

“Every single American knows, is related to, or works with someone who is LGBTQ, whether they know it or not,” Wozniak said. “Allowing for discrimination of LGBTQ is not OK anymore.”

Chesney Davis can be reached at

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.