East Islip High School was a little quieter on April 20, as dozens of students participated in the annual national Day of Silence. Sponsored by the school’s Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) club, the event raises awareness about the importance of standing up against the bullying and discrimination faced by many gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender students inside schools.
Said guidance counselor and GSA adviser Jessica Pignataro, “When the GSA first sponsored this event in 2009 we had about 20 students participate. That number has grown every year, which is a wonderful thing to see. With all of the bullying-related information in the media, this is a great opportunity for the kids to do something positive and informative.”
The Day of Silence
was founded by a group of college students in 1996, with the intent of drawing attention to the silencing effects of bullying. Participating students take a vow of silence for an entire school day – including lunchtime, which can be difficult – and carry informational speaking cards to hand out.
“We are really grateful to have such a supportive staff and administration, who stood behind these students as they took part in this event,” said Pignataro. “Many staff members wore shirts, buttons or bracelets in support of the event, and held discussions in their classes about the importance of having a school that is safe for all students.”