A longtime reader emailed to express his disappointment in me for not mentioning this year’s Day of Silence, which was on Friday, April 17th. I’m glad he reminded me and I’m disappointed that I missed it too. This year’s Day of Silence was dedicated to a young man named Carl Walker-Hoover, who hung himself on April 6th after relentless anti-gay bullying at school. He would have turned 12 on April 17th, the Day of Silence. Carl’s mother told the local newspaper:
“If anything can come of this, it’s that another child doesn’t have to suffer like this and there can be some justice for some other child. I don’t want any other parent to go through this.”
Neither do I. Almost every young gay person gets insulted and harassed at school. Half are physically harassed and nearly 1/4 are physically assaulted, sometimes routinely. Others are subject to the same treatment if they are merely suspected of being gay. But things are changing. The spread of Gay Straight Alliance clubs is making a real difference. More and more teachers are stepping up as allies and declaring their classrooms to be safe zones.
Let’s work together to bring an end to this. Events like the Day of Silence are vital for sending a message in the schools, where it is needed most, that gay and lesbian students — and straight students who are perceived to be — are not alone, that they have people around them who understand them and want to protect them. We need the entire school, the entire society, to be safe zones. Lives depend on it.