Intersections: Confluence of Silence

April 12, 2019 by Bill Ivey

Today is the annual Day of Silence, sponsored by GLSEN. Some of the students in our Gender Sexuality Alliance (GSA) are choosing to participate, maintaining silence throughout the class day to call attention to the figurative silence of the closet in which many LGBTQ+ people live, whether wholly or partially. Following GLSEN guidelines, teachers have been asked to support the kids, bending where possible to allow them to maintain their silence in the classroom (for example, writing out answers to questions or doing board work) with the understanding we might also ask them to participate vocally in cases where that might genuinely be necessary. At the end of the day, the kids will gather for a three-minute long period of silence followed by a ritual (read: loud and joyful) breaking of the silence.

Earlier this week, those of us who attended the Vermont Academy Diversity Conference gathered together to touch base about some of our ongoing projects to build on what the school is doing well in support of our students of a spectrum of sexualities and genders and keep moving forward. We’ve already made good progress with several initiatives, and there is more to come, bringing yet more growth.

Meanwhile, in a deeply ironic and depressing turn of events, the Trump administration’s ban on transgender people in the military goes into effect today, effectively silencing a number of our troops who have been acting in service to their country. The ban has been opposed, both legally and through other forms of speaking up, by organizations like Minority Veterans of America, GLBTQ Legal Advocates and Defenders (GLAD), and the Truman Center, joined by the individual voices of many retired veterans and currently serving military personnel. However, the last legal obstacle was removed on Tuesday, March 26.

I’ll be joining my colleagues in supporting the kids today. And, as I do every day, I’ll also be thinking about the larger world in which these kids live every day, not all of which is as supportive of them as we are. As always, I’ll focus on the fundamental need to create a world where all our students can graduate “secure in the knowledge that [their] voice will be heard.”

And I too will feel joyful at their raised voices as they break the silence.

Written by Bill Ivey

A dedicated member of the faculty, Bill Ivey is the Middle School Dean at Stoneleigh-Burnham School. He teaches Humanities 7 and the Middle and Upper School Rock Bands. Bill is the advisor for MOCA, the middle school student government, and he coordinates and participates in the middle school service program. Among his many hats, Bill also coordinates social media for Stoneleigh-Burnham School.

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Filed Under: day of silence, student voice, LGBT Support, GLSEN, Intersections, LGBTQ+ Support