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Day of Silence speaks volumes

Sometimes silence speaks quite loudly.

Students at Federal Way High School, as well as more than 200 high schools throughout the state, participated in the National Day of Silence event on April 25.

Both homosexual and heterosexual students banded together to raise awareness of the bullying and harassment that gay, lesbian, transgender and bisexual students often face. They made their statement by going all day without speaking, instead signing their names to a list of supporters and passing out cards describing their cause.

At lunchtime on Friday, 84 students had already signed up as supporters. More students continued to sign up throughout the day.

“It’s a great demonstration,” said Paul Cantu, a senior at Federal Way and the ASB president. “Everybody’s very supportive.”

Gay and lesbian students at Federal Way are sometimes subject to derogatory language, Cantu said.

“As with anything, there’s going to be a little bit of bullying for people that are different,” he said.

Cantu said he suspects that in several years, people will look back in awe and disgust over the discrimination and harassment that gays and lesbians often face.

Extra participation at Federal Way’s Day of Silence this year was fueled partly because of news of anti-gay protests at a similar event at Snoqualmie Valley’s Mount Si High School, Cantu said. Students at Federal Way were inspired to come forward in support of their school’s diversity.

“It’s really big this year that we have a big showing of it,” Cantu said.

Students who participated in the event on Friday said, in written statements because of their vow of silence, that students and staff were supportive of their participation.

“We have gotten a mostly positive response,” said John Daniel, a sophomore who said he has experienced bullying in the past because of his sexual orientation.

“As an out gay teen, I feel it is my responsibility to raise awareness of issues that affect GLBTQ youth and their allies,” Daniel said. “We feel that we are telling truths and making people aware of an issue that most don’t think about. Our ultimate goal and mission is for everyone who goes to school to feel safe to learn and be themselves. We’re all about equality.”

Murphy Eakes, a senior at Federal Way, said he too has received rude homophobic remarks from students. After the Day of Silence each year, the bullying dies down slightly.

“It’s not necessarily less often occurring, but you can definitely tell people have the realization that they’re doing something wrong,” Eakes said.

More than 500,000 students from more than 4,000 schools nationwide organize Day of Silence events each year, according to the Web site www.dayofsilence.org.

Contact Margo Hoffman: mhoffman@fedwaymirror.com or (253) 925-5565.

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