Last Friday, Woodward's Gay-Straight Alliance and the Woodward Equality Alliance (WEA) led the school in a Day of Silence to raise awareness about LGBT+ issues. Many students participated by wearing a sticker with the WEA logo and remaining silent for an entire day. To learn more about the event, Beyond the Gate caught up via email with faculty advisors Traci Lerner and Jennifer Parker as well as WEA co-president, Justin Clark.
Beyond the Gate: What is the Day of Silence designed to do?
Traci: The Day of Silence is designed to call attention to the silence some members of the LGBT community must endure when they feel they cannot be their true selves due to societal constraints.
Jennifer: It represents what many LGBT students face on a regular basis. They are often bullied into silence or often feel unsafe about speaking their truth.
BG: Why do you think it's important?
Justin: The LGBT+ community has been oppressed for many years, so we want to inform people about it. It is incredible that Woodward has a Gay Straight Alliance so the LGBT+ community can be together and have a safe space. Being silent all day was such a powerful statement. I was part of a cause that needs to be spread to everyone. People need to know that teenagers are scared to come out to their parents and peers.
Traci: At Woodward we are fortunate to have had our GSA, the Woodward Equality Alliance, for the past 3 years. We strive to be an inclusive school, as there are strides to have an inclusive country, but there is always room for growth. When we participate in national events like the Day of Silence, it calls attention to this school-wide, national, and global effort to recognize and support the LGBT community.
BG: How does the Day of Silence fit into or support Woodward's culture and mission?
Jennifer: Woodward is a school that respects both diversity and inclusion; we want our LGBT community to feel safe speaking about who they are.
Traci: While students are often busy with their many obligations during the lunchtime WEA meetings, each year a great number of students show their solidarity with the club and its mission on National Coming Out Day in the fall and Day of Silence in the spring. Seeing the myriad of students embracing diversity and proclaiming themselves allies of the LGBT community inspires hope as these students create an inclusive environment at Woodward and take that sentiment to college.Justin: So many students chose to be silent to raise awareness for this cause. When I saw how many people joined and participated in this amazing event, it was really meaningful.