NEWPORT, R.I. – Salve Regina University’s Gay-Straight-Lesbian-Bisexual Alliance will hold its third annual Day of Silence on Tuesday, April 19 to bring attention to anti-LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer) name-calling, bullying, labeling and harassment in schools. The day will culminate with a “Breaking of the Silence” panel discussion, open to the Salve Regina community, at 6 p.m., hosted by the Mercy Center for Spiritual Life.
The Breaking of the Silence panel will be held at the Mercy Center, which is located in the ground floor of Our Lady of Mercy Chapel on Ochre Point Avenue. Salve Regina senior Vin Testa will emcee the event and a student panel will answer questions and discuss their own experiences as an LGBT person or ally. Audience members will be encouraged to share their experiences and ask questions to get a dialogue going.
The event will culminate with the screening and final filming for the GSLBA’s “Human” video – http://www.vimeo.com/22390798. Students, faculty and staff will have the opportunity to create a message for the film’s conclusion about Salve Regina’s support for bullied students.
To participate in the Day of Silence, Salve Regina community members will wear a ribbon and carry an information card between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. Participants will be encouraged to remain silent for the day and attend the Breaking of the Silence event at 6 p.m.
The information cards read: “Please understand my reasons for not speaking today. I am participating in the Day of Silence, a national youth movement bringing attention to the silence faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and their allies. My deliberate silence echoes that silence, which is caused by anti-LGBT bullying, name-calling and harassment. I believe that ending the silence is the first step toward building awareness and making a commitment to address these injustices. Think about the voices you are not hearing today.”
Founded in 1996, the National Day of Silence has become the largest single student-led action towards creating safer schools for all, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression. Each year the event has grown, and now hundreds of thousands of students participate to encourage schools and classmates to address the issue of anti-LGBT behavior.
Salve Regina’s observation of the Day of Silence follows up its “Our Human Dignity” forum held in November to discuss the tragic incident at Rutgers University that led to the death of Tyler Clementi.
The university’s department of Religious and Theological Studies and the Mercy Center for Spiritual Life promoted the effort to address this issue and others like it from the view point of basic human dignity, and to talk about issues of respect, shame, community, how we hurt each other and how we can help each other.
“We hope that the Salve campus is a place where every student feels safe, where every student can thrive and where the human dignity of each person is respected and celebrated,” said Dr. Anna Mae Mayer, director of the Mercy Center for Spiritual Life.