The student quad was silent this last Thursday from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Sponsored by CCS, ASG, GSA and the Latin American Film Club a “Day of Silence” was held to protest the bullying and harassment of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGTB) students and their supporters.
Many students and faculty heard the loud statement as some 100 students and faculty participated in the protest, where students sat on chairs lined out on the grass with colorful bandanas covering their mouth. Co advisor to the Gay Straight Alliance Club (GSA), Professor Hernandez comments, “This is the second year when we have had a lot of people attending,” who was left with about 20 bandanas out of 144.
Professor Hernandez has been the advisor for many years to the GSA club, she has been involved in several events and informs us that last year there were fewer students participating than faculty. She stated that because the event was in The Village, fewer students participated, as it was too far down on school property. This year, it is the faculty that is in The Village making it difficult for teachers to support even for their 15 minute break. Another obstacle this group faced was getting the word out for the event. Professor Hernandez comments that most of the posters she had up were taken down by Wednesday night, she does not know who is responsible for such action.
Regardless, the outcome was very positive.
Professor Hernandez recalls the past years, “Couple of years ago, (people) flipped me or called me ‘f- you lesbian’ and all that. But not anymore, no one did anything unpleasant today.”
Arielle Colby, 19, architecture said, “Some people kind of had that smile on their face, like they approved of what we are doing, some people just seemed like they wanted to get by us.”
Throughout the day people were grabbing the flyers to find out what was going on, “Only four or five people didn’t want a flyer, but in general people were being polite, this year. It is getting better,” Hernandez also said that she made about 500 flyers and by the end of the event they were all gone.
Whether through class, few posters, Saddleback’s radio station or the event itself students who came out on the quad really are the new generation.
Hernandez commented, “I love it, the new generation. They are real open. They are more accepting, because so many students today came and they are not from GSA,” she added, “they are not afraid of being labeled. It‘s nice.” Even when all the chairs were taken, there were no bandanas or flyers left people kept joining, sitting on the grass and keeping quiet.
Tara Alizadeh, 19, psychology said, “I am very involved in the gay community a lot of my friends are gay and I completely respect that,” she later added, “I think that everybody is diverse in their own ways and people should respect that.”
Nathaniel Seeger, 18, philosophy said, “When people see people actually taking action on something, trying to change something, or do something about it, they reassess what they thought about it.”
Ryan Iglesias, 19, communications said, “I’m gay myself, so (I showed up) for support,” when asked if he had ever been harassed or bullied he replied, “All through high school I’ve always had comments about being gay.” And at Saddleback? “Oh, never at Saddleback. People have never even said anything.”
At 12:30 p.m. the group broke their silence in a triumphant cheer chanting, “What do we want? Equal rights! When do we want them? Now!”
Hernandez next project is on May 5th where Michelle Ortiz from San Francisco State will speak about discrimination in the LGTB community.
“Next time marriage equality is going to win,” Hernandez said keeping a positive outlook for the future. To join GSA you can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.