The Hotchkiss student-run Gender and Sexuality Alliance (GSA) hosted a special virtual event, Breaking the Silence, on April 23 in conjunction with the national Day of Silence, an annual day of action established by GLSEN to spread awareness about the effects of bullying and harassment on members of the LGBTQ+ community.
Students and faculty members shared personal stories about LGBTQ+ experiences at Hotchkiss, and anonymous submissions were read by students. More than 550 members of the community attended the event, joining with high schools students across the country to protest harassment of and discrimination against LGBTQ+ people in schools.
Luke Gardiner ’21 and Eliza Ross ’22, co-heads of GSA, thanked the community for observing the day of silence. Set in the context of bullying and harassment of members of the LGBTQ+ community, Gardner noted that it is “our responsibility to look within, to examine ourselves, and to think about what we do and say.”
Instructor in History and Philosophy and Religion Emma Wynn, who teaches LBGTQ+ U.S. History, shared her own personal story and talked about significant LBGTQ+ figures, many of whom have been erased from or are simply missing from the history books. Among those she noted are Charles Sumner, an abolitionist who was perceived as a queer man; poet Emily Dickinson; Bayard Rustin, civil rights leader and an adviser to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and Kiyoshi Kuromiya, one of the founders of Gay Liberation Front.
“Intersectionality is not new. It is important to remember that,” Wynn emphasized.
GSA co-head Eliza Ross added that stereotypes and prejudices against LBGTQ+ people is not a problem of the past, but something we have to continue to combat.
Friday’s event kicks off Hotchkiss’s celebration of Pride Week, which begins on April 26. GSA has planned a number of discussions and events during the week, including color-themed days, pins and merchandise sales, and a virtual visit from guest speaker Cody Sloan, a transgender actor and activist.