Inspired by Lady Gaga, an HHS student spoke out for LGBTQ kids with the statement, “I speak out because baby, you were born this way.” Others followed suit, standing up for friends and family; one student mentioned his two moms.
These messages were written by members of the Hanover High School community during our first “We Will Not Be Silent” Day. This year, the HRA made a difficult decision about the Day of Silence. Some argued that the Day of Silence had lost power over the years, and that something stronger was needed to further awareness. Though not all were in favor of the new idea, the alternative we decided on was the concept of “We Will Not Be Silent.”
In the past, participating in the Day of Silence allowed students to sign a pledge to be silent in order to raise awareness for the silence that confines many LGBTQ people who are afraid to speak out about who they really are. For some students, the Day of Silence reinforced the lives they were already leading. This year, we decided to give the HHS community the opportunity to speak out about the issues facing LGBTQ teens. We passed out free buttons that read “We Will Not Be Silent.” It has been great seeing the rainbow buttons displayed even though the “day” is over.
In addition to breaking the silence, the HRA has taken other actions to help raise awareness and tolerance. In October, over 70 students offered their support by signing pledges to become Allies, or people who stand up for others and help to create a community where everyone can feel safe.
In addition to the “Break the Silence,” day, our club built the speak-out boxes. These were placed in the library, Guidance office, and SRC, and were based on an idea found on Post Secret, a website where people can share opinions anonymously. The speak-out boxes also provide an anonymous place for students to voice opinions on school climate and share experiences of bulling or negativity in the school environment. The boxes were the HRA’s largest focus this year. Next year, our main goal is to utilize the speak-out boxes to their full potential. We are also working on reintroducing Safe Space Tuesdays in Mr. Phipps’ classroom, where students, regardless of sexual orientation or gender, can have a safe place to talk or hang out without judgment or fear. As always, the Rainbow Alliance meetings will be held in Mr. Phipps’ room on Fridays during activity period, and everyone in the HHS community is invited to come.