National Day of Silence for LGBTQ+ students: Local allies weigh in

National Day of Silence is a movement that protests the bullying and harassment of LGBTQ+ students and their supporters.

Concord University student Britney Coleman wonders how we got here and treat people like this for being who they are and what feels organic to them.

“We all love somebody, we’re all attracted to something and we can’t exactly help when we’re attracted to those things,” said Coleman, who’s set to get her master’s in social work this May. “So why should people be suffering at all; I just don’t think that’s right.”

This 10th-grader says he feels like it’s important to note that students being bullied or harassed because of their sexual orientation — are no different than anyone else. That kind of treatment, especially here in southern West Virginia is unjust and unfair, he says, adding that his mom is part of the LGBTQ+ community.

“She has faced a lot of hate and discrimination throughout her life and I definitely don’t want anybody else to face the things that she had to,” Shady Spring High School student Elijah Hammons said. “Things like the Pride Festival in Beckley and Pride Month are very important.”

Elizabeth Hammons has lived in southern West Virginia for most of her life and says she is accustomed to the issues that come with that. To her, National Day of Silence is more about what youth have to deal with now. Her own children have faced bullying and taunting because of her lifestyle, which she calls unnecessary.

“They are faced with so many more mature and adult decisions at their age than we were and to be put in a situation where they’re bullied for me; it’s heartbreaking,” the LGBTQ ally and advocate said. “I think that we can all do better. I think parents have a responsibility to teach their children better and to be less inflammatory and more accepting.”

When it comes to tolerance, Coleman says if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything. There are centers on college campuses that can help you work through the way that you feel.

“We can avoid so many misunderstandings if we just talked about our mental health instead of using it on other people to stigmatize and deflect our own issues,” said the Concord University student.

Elijah Hammons is comfortable with his personal journey and says no matter what you believe in, identify as, or who you are attracted to doesn’t change you as a person.

“You are still a human being with the same rights and the same privileges as any other human being,” the 10th-grader said. “There’s no point in getting all bent up/out of shape over whether people would like to kiss a man or a woman. Really just causes more problems than it’s worth and we have way more important things to focus on.”

According to Coleman, it’s tough for kids today — being gay and stigmatized makes people give up on themselves. We all have a right to our preferences.

“It’s easier said than done but if you need someone to talk to I’m here,” she said. “Don’t be quiet, don’t keep it in, and love who you love.”




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