Thursday, April 14, 2011

Hey all Gay, Lesbian, Bi-sexual, and Transgender people……shut the hell up!

Oh, wait a minute.  I don’t really have to say that because today is the Day of Silence!  That’s right ladies and gentlemen.  On a day when students are trying to bring awareness to other students of the harassment of the LGBT community, kids will be saying….nothing. 

I have a strong dislike of the Day of Silence, but not because of the reason you might think.  I’m about as strong of a supporter of gay rights as you’ll find.  I detest the despicable principles of harassment, and I’m proud that one of the few opinions I give in class is that I support all people in the United States being protected by the United States Constitution.  When students ask me if I support gay marriage, I simply answer “I support the Constitution of the United States and the ideal that all Americans are guaranteed those rights.  And I mean all Americans.”  What I don’t like about the Day of Silence is what it does.  Students and teachers will walk around campus refusing to engage in conversation, acknowledging you with a nod and writing notes stating that they can’t talk because they are supporting equal treatment for the LGBT community.  In its essence, it is actually bringing nothing to LGBT community except the understanding that a person that is oppressed would be better seen and not heard.  And when has being completely silent ever changed anything?  Non-violent civil disobedience was never silent.  Discussion and debate are never silent.  Change doesn’t come from silence. 

So some students will ramble in to my classroom and hand me the little note which is to notify me of the Day of Silence.  I will furrow my brow and ask them, “Are you sure this is the best course of action for your cause”, and they will nod.  By the end of the day absolutely nothing will be accomplished towards bringing awareness to the plight of the LGBT community because they will have stifled their own voices.

I will do what I have always done on April 15th, and that is to tell a story.  Only today I think I’ll add another to the mix.  My first story will be the annual tribute to Jackie Robinson.  Every year on April 15, I explain a little Civil Rights and baseball history with Branch Ricky and Jackie Robinson’s importance to American History.  Those that don’t know, April 15, 1947 was the day that baseball became integrated; the day that Robinson started for the Brooklyn Dodgers.  My second story, on this day to bring awareness to the LGBT community, will be about the Stonewall Rebellion in 1969.  Almost never mentioned in history classes, the riots that came out of the police brutality in Greenwich Village, New York City became the beginning of the Gay Rights Movement, and made the country take notice of a group of people being treated like subjugated citizens.  On the Day of Silence, I’m going to do some teaching.  

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