Participants in this year’s National Day of Silence Project, presented by the Queer Student Union, hope to speak volumes.
From 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. today students at schools across the nation will not speak. Their silence is supposed to represent queer students whose voices are not heard. Participants at UCSB will line the Arbor today with their mouths covered with black tape to symbolize the effect of not having their right to express themselves. They will also pass out cards explaining their reason for silence.
“People assume that everyone they talk to is heterosexual,” Kiely Hosmon, one of the event’s main coordinators and co-chair for the Queer Student Union, said. She said derogatory terms aimed at homosexuals or implying a negative connotation to homosexuality are common deterrents to coming out for some queers.
Hosmon said she hopes the event provides reflection and a safe space for everyone to think about the silence queer students have forced upon them.
Hosmon, who came out her sophomore year of high school, says the event will “give a voice to those who cannot speak.” Hosmon and the Queer Student Union will be in the Arbor to answer questions.
The Day of Silence Project was founded in 1996 at the University of Virginia. The purpose was to give a voice to those that wanted to make educational institutions safe for all students, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
Last year, over 1,900 middle schools, high schools, colleges and universities participated in the event.
The demonstration will end with the Break the Silence ceremony in the MultiCultural Center from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Participants are scheduled to discuss how they felt silenced before they came out and what can be done to improve the situation for queers on the UCSB campus.
“Everyone is welcome,” Hosmon said. “[The event is] not only for queer students. It asks everybody what they are doing to break the silence.”