By Beltha M. Anjangha
ST. ClOUD, Minnesota – A demonstration at the Atwood Market Place at St Cloud State University, alerted students to the realities of anti-LGBT bullying, and paid tributes to LGBT students whose voices have been silenced by bullies.
According to GLSEN (Gay Lesbian and Straight Education Network), 9 of 10 LGBT+ students experience harassment at schools all over America, ranging from middle schools to universities. Anti-LGBT bullying has silenced many LGBT students, ridding them of their right to freedom of speech. The day of silence started in 1996 by GLSEN to alert students to these realities and encourage them to work together to end this kind of bullying.
On Monday April 18, 2018, Kia Anderson, a member of the St Cloud State University LGBT Community demonstrated at the Atwood market place by writing the words; dyke, fruit, homo, fagot…and other words usually directed towards gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender students on school campuses. She put scotch tape across her mouth and wrote day of silence over it. She refused to speak, but wrote on her board to correct students each time they referred to “them” and “He,” “She,” “him,” or “her.” Most transgender would rather be called they, especially if they are still transitioning. It is more advisable to ask them what they’d rather be addressed as. “It is okay to be different, it is not okay to be a bully.” Kia wrote on a board she held up as students walked by, taking pictures of her and asking her questions.
“They say they are just words, but they are more than words.” Said Mica Saucedo, a member of the St Cloud State University LGBT+ community, and a victim to anti-LGBT+ violence. She has had to change schools to run from bullies, and feel safe. “…and sometimes its not just words, sometimes people are physically attacked and physically abused.” Mica added.
Though gay marriage has been legalized, according to the LGBT community, they still struggle for freedom and equality. The most recent struggle the community faces is over bathrooms. They want to be able to use the restrooms they feel comfortable in. Most transgender do not feel comfortable using the restroom of the sex they were born with, but they are not allowed to use the restroom of the sex they want to be.
Mica says the day of silence is a day set aside to remind people of the injustice against the LGBT community, to stand up for freedom and equality, and to be the voice of those who have been silenced by bullies.
If you are an LGBT+ student at the St Cloud State University campus, go to Room 142, Atwood memorial center and talk to anyone there. Call campus security, or 911 if in immediate danger.