A “Day of Silence” was held Wednesday at Windham High School to raise awareness of the harassment faced by gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered youth.

Over 30 students took a vow of silence for the day in protest against such discrimination. The participants wore red patches of cloth on their shirts and set up tables during both lunch periods where they handed out cards to teachers and fellow students that explained the reason for their silence: “My deliberate silence echoes that silence which is caused by harassment, prejudice and discrimination. I believe that ending the silence is the first step toward fighting these injustices,” the cards read.

Half of the students who participated in the protest were part of the Civil Rights Team headed by History teacher Pam Taylor.

“The purpose of the day of silence is to end harassment of any kind and to protect from harassment anyone who is labeled different by his or her classmates or who, for a number of reasons, don’t fit the mold,” Taylor said.

Taylor has run the Civil Rights Team for five years. She sees the protest as similar to other events the school has hosted in the past such as a Holocaust Remembrance Day in 2002 when students wore paper clips to show that, as Taylor said, “we are more united than we are divided.”

The “Day of Silence” was organized by the students themselves, with Taylor’s help, as part of a nationwide protest sponsored by the GLSEN (Gay and Lesbian Education Network). The GLSEN has sponsored the event for the last four years during which time it has seen tremendous growth. This year over 450,000 students from 4,000 schools across the country took part in the protest. Their aim: to break the silence surrounding these issues through their pronounced silence.

“The Day of Silence continues to grow each year because of the extraordinary commitment, leadership and dedication of students who want to make a difference in their schools and communities,” said Executive Director Kevin Jennings, Founder of the GLSEN, “Knowing that across the country, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) and straight students alike are taking a stand together to make anti-LGBT bullying and violence unacceptable in America’s schools give me hope and faith in the future of America.”

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