portland independent media center  
images audio video
feature article reporting portland metro

actions & protests | education | youth

Wilson High School students observe National Day of Silence

The Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network and the United States Students Association sponsored a National Day of Silence on April 10. Students all over the country participated. According to the Day of Silence project website, the day began in 1996, when "then-18-year-old student Maria Pulzetti first conceived of the Day of Silence, after writing a paper on nonviolent protest and grassroots organizing. In the seven years since, the project has grown into a national effort involving hundreds of groups and thousands of students in both high schools and colleges around the country."

Members of Wilson High School's Gay Straight Alliance (along with members of the Students for Social Justice) participated in the National Day of Silence. The kids did not speak for the entire day in order to accomplish the following: "Our silence is part of a national movement spreading awareness for and protesting the silence faced by victims of harassment, prejudice, and discrimination."

The students' silence served as a reminder to the school and community that there are people who are forced into anonymity every day. Among the kids' goals were to force people to see each other as individual people. One witness to the day described it thus: "Amidst the current chaos of the current school year, these students are an inspiration. We can cut funding, but not their spirit."

Day of Silence Project website