MHS Day of Silence Calls for End to Bullying of LGBT Sudents
• Over 200 Students Took Part in Event Started 15 Years Ago That Now Involves Thousands
BY JULIE WALLACH
Bullying and Harassment of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Students Continues to Be a Serious Problem on Campuses in Communities All Across the Nation
Malibu High School students participated in the Day of Silence on Friday, March 4, a student-led national event that draws attention to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender name-calling, bullying and harassment in schools, according to a press release.
The event was originally organized at the University of Virginia in 1996 in response to a class assignment on non-violent protests. According to the Day of Silence website, as of 2008, "Hundreds of thousands of students from more than 8000 K-12 schools, colleges and universities organized Day of Silence events."
The Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network conducted a survey in 2007 that showed 86.2% of LGBT students reported being verbally harassed, 44.1% reported being physically harassed and 22.1% reported being physically assaulted at school in the past year because of their sexual orientation. Additionally, 73.6% heard derogatory remarks such as "faggot" or "dyke" frequently or often at school.
Sarah Prunier, an English teacher at Malibu High, who organized this year's event said, "About 220 kids participated on Friday, and I have not heard of any harassment or bullying. The kids are really great about this day."
Prunier told the Malibu Surfside News, "This is the fourth or fifth year we have done the Day of Silence, so the kids all know what it is about and how important our school feels it is to promote acceptance, kindness, and compassion towards all."
Prunier is in her sixth year as advisor to the campus's Gay-Straight Alliance, an organization that "campaigns to bring awareness to the issue of acceptance of all people, bullying and about suicide risk gay teens experience."
She said, "This year, we put up pictures of celebrities who were out as gay and put statistics on it about harassment, bullying, etc. and said, 'Aren't you glad this person survived?'"
Prunier concluded, "The kids all know what the Day of Silence is about and how important our school feels it is to promote acceptance, kindness, and compassion towards all. [Ending all forms of harassment and bullying] is a goal, and we keep trying to achieve it at Malibu High one day at a time."
The Gay-Straight Alliance meets Thursdays at lunch in Room 200, alternating with another club. For more information, contact Sarah Prunier at 310-457-6801 x74201.