Written by Teagan Pringle
Silence is defined as the absence of sound or noise, and the state or fact of being silent.
On April 21, people all around the world take silence to stand up for those in the LGBTQ community who are silenced in the school systems. The group GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian, & Straight Education Network), pronounced ‘glisten’, strives to assure that each member of every school community is valued and respected regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression. GLSEN recognizes that heterosexism, homophobia, biphobia and transphobia are interconnected with other forms of oppression — a relationship that serves to sustain, enforce and amplify the individual and collective effects of these forces, and challenges efforts to address any one of them.
Although the day of silence relates primarily to ending the silence around those within the LGBTQ communities, there is an incredibly loud stigma causing intense silence surrounding anything that people aren’t “comfortable” with or don’t fit “normal” within our society.
LGBTQ youth have an increased risk of suicide, substance abuse, isolation and experiencing sexual abuse.
We live in a world where everyone primarily looks out for themselves, and look to better their standing within society. Whether affected by mental illness, accepting being part of the LGBTQ community, or anything in between, our differences should ignite us as we recognize, and appreciate all components of our identity, and allow for our diversity to strengthen us, rather than segregate us.
It’s important we create environments that allow people to feel safe, and comfortable in expressing who they are. With this, educating ourselves, talking to those dealing with silencing behaviours can be a great start. It allows them to feel like they have a voice, like someone is listening. Creating non-judgemental, apprehension filled conversation allows for comfort to be pursued and acknowledgement that it’s OKAY to be different, and it’s OKAY to not be okay.
A Canadian study estimates that the risk of suicide is 14 times higher in LGB youth than their heterosexual counterparts.
Although not everyone can fully identity with what another person is going through emotionally, we can all approach situations with an open-minded attitude and naive manner that allows us to not silence one another. Despite potentially not fully understanding what another person is experiencing in any given moment, we have all been in situations where we feel inadequate, and moments when we feel that we are not enough. If you have every been in a place where you didn’t feel worthy of thoughts, actions or ways of being, please remember that some people deal with this everyday.
You don’t deserve to be told how you should feel, or what you should feel,
You don’t deserve to be told who you are,
You don’t deserve to be silenced.
So although today is a day of taking silence, let tomorrow, and everyday be days that you recognize your right to not be silenced, whether standing up for yourself, or for those around. Silence can be deafening, don’t let it be the last thing someone hears, or feels.
Photo by Sarah Davison