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GSA Leads Day of Silence

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Last Friday, many M-A students participated in Day of Silence, a national student-led demonstration started by the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN) back in the mid-1990s.

On this day, LGBTQ+ students and allies take a vow of silence to protest the discrimination LGBTQ+ people face at school. Those who participated in Day of Silence at M-A used stickers or notes to let others know they weren’t able to speak.

M-A’s Day of Silence event was organized by the Genders and Sexualities Alliance (GSA).

Sophomore Marlyn Palafox said, “Day of Silence is a show of support for others who have been silenced rather than fighting against the silencing.”

Nationally, 82% of LGBTQ+ students reported experiencing harassment or bullying firsthand at their school and over 30% reported missing school because they felt unsafe or uncomfortable.

Junior Eva Grant said, “It is an important cause and an event where I could actually make change. It was a fun way I could participate within the queer community that’s more visible.”

Junior Logan Greenbaum said, “I participated because it affects me personally, being both trans and queer. It’s also something I can do to stand in solidarity with my friends in my community.”

Sophomore Sofia Basso said, “It’s a good way to show the school how many people stand behind the changes that need to be made. It’s a great thing for GSA and allies to come together and move forward as a society, especially since there have been a lot of events recently that affected the LGBTQ+ community.”

Staying silent did pose a challenge to participants. Grant said, “The most difficulty I had was accidentally speaking. It was definitely frustrating in some ways when I was trying to get a point across but I couldn’t talk. But generally, I was able to type it out or act it out.”

Greenbaum shared, “It was difficult to stay silent throughout the day because my teachers would call on me and I would immediately answer out of habit. But everyone who was participating was wearing stickers, so once people saw the stickers they kind of understood why we were silent.”

Basso explained, “In high-level classes where there’s more engaging activities it was difficult trying not to break the silence. But the teachers were mostly respectful about it, which was nice.”

Allegra Hoddie and Zoe Fong observe Day of Silence

Day of Silence is just one of the many ways GSA hopes to create a more inclusive campus. Every year, GSA compiles a list of action items to send to M-A administrators on Day of Silence in the hopes of discussing ways to create a more inclusive campus.

One of these items is the adequate inclusion of LGBTQ+ history in M-A courses. Nationally, 71% of students reported that their classrooms did not include any LGBTQ+ topics. Under California’s FAIR Act, teaching the history of LGBTQ+ communities is mandated. This year, GSA compiled a list of resources and lesson plans that could help teachers expand M-A’s history curriculum to include more LGBTQ+ topics. In their letter to M-A’s administration, GSA wrote, “We ask for support from administration in establishing school-wide standards and support for teaching LGBTQ+ history.”

GSA also hopes to continue their yearly professional development presentation, which aims to both discuss and educate on how to create inclusive classrooms. They hope to further address homophobia and transphobia by adding a language statement to the Student Handbook, which currently does not explicitly address misgendering, discrimination, and harassment against LGBTQ+ students.

In addition, GSA is advocating for more gender-inclusive changing spaces and maintaining a consistent stock of menstrual products in the all-gender restroom and at least one boys’ restroom. Under California law, the Menstrual Equity for All Act requires that menstrual products be freely accessible at school, including in all-gender restrooms and at least one boys’ restroom. At M-A, however, both the boys’ restroom and the all-gender restroom did not have menstrual products until Leadership students held their recent hygiene drive.

M-A students are currently only able to change their name on items like ID cards, yearbooks, class rosters, and email addresses with parent or guardian permission. GSA’s final action item is to change this policy and allow students to change their name on unofficial school records without parent or guardian permission. 

GSA meets every Wednesday during flex in B-3. They offer resources on mental health for queer students,  LGBTQ+ rights, local pride centers, and more here.

Eileen Liu is a junior in her second year of journalism. She enjoys covering local businesses in the community and environmental issues. In her free time, she enjoys photography and painting.

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