Spectator editorial: ‘Silence’ is golden

On April 25, students around the country were invited to participate in the national “Day of Silence,” a youth-run event that highlights bullying and harassment of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender students. Participating students maintain silence over the course of the day or for a portion of the day to call for an end to physical, psychological and verbal abuse of LGBT students, according to the event’s Web site.

But some parents resisted the schools’ participation in the event. According to KCCI, the CBS affiliate in Des Moines, parents across Iowa were lobbying schools to stop organizing the event. Some religious groups around the state discouraged schools from participating in the event, claiming it promotes alternative lifestyles to children.

Parents and religious groups in these instances were overreacting to the “Day of Silence,” trying to impose their will on schools for something that is a display of freedom of speech. Schools allow religious demonstrations during school time, so it’s contradictory to ask that this type of event be discouraged in schools. Students weren’t forced to participate in this event either; if they wanted to stay silent or not, there was really nothing the schools or the parents could do to stop them.

The “Day of Silence” is also bringing attention to the very important issue of in-school harassment of LGBT students, not promoting one lifestyle over another as some of the parents and religious organizations accused it of. This is indeed a problem in schools around the country, as the killing of Lawrence King, a California eighth-grader who, according to the article, was shot by a classmate because of his sexual orientation. Helping administrators, students and parents become more aware of this problem in schools nationwide is a commendable act.

This is too important of an issue to allow a vocal minority to stop. This is a matter of free speech for the students participating, which is something outside forces shouldn’t be allowed to prevent.