By Marina Renton
Andover High School will be having a “Day of Silence” on Thursday, April 12. Participants take a pledge of silence in order to support LBGTQQI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning, queer, intersex) youth and to draw attention to the fact that they don’t have a voice or are met with silence by society.
The Day of Silence is a nationwide event; however, as it falls during spring vacation in Massachusetts, schools are holding it on different days both before and after vacation. Andover High elected to hold it the Thursday before vacation.
The AHS Gay/Straight Alliance (GSA) club coordinates the event. “We do this event every year at the school,” said Tara Mackenzie, a member of GSA. “We have people sign the pledge to stay silent during this day to show support.”
Beginning Monday, April 9, people may sign up to participate. Sign-ups will take place during all three lunches.
“Everyone who is participating has a card explaining why they aren’t speaking,” Mackenzie said. “They also have a sticker.”
Participants must stay silent for the entire school day, and they may not communicate using any alternative forms of communication such as hand signals or writing.
The Day of Silence is not meant to interfere with education. A note is sent out to all the teachers informing them of the event beforehand and asking them to support the students. However, students may not use participation in the event to avoid speaking in class.
AHS has participated in the event for the past few years and, according to club advisor Ms. Burch, has seen a general increase in participants. Typically, around 150 to 160 students participate, and even some faculty members have wanted to participate.
Mackenzie encourages students to participate in the event, or at least support those participating. “You’re showing support for people who can’t be themselves and for the people who are being smothered. It gives them hope,” she said.