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Berry Creek Middle School students making noise with a Day of Silence

Students plan to peacefully protest against bullying and discrimination

Edgar Arroyo
Special to the Daily
Students from Berry Creek Middle School will participate in a Day of Silence on Friday.
Courtesy photo

Claire Nibbe, a language teacher at Berry Creek Middle School in Edwards, knows that Friday, May 6, will be a special day and one very different from all others.

With a bit of intrigue and enthusiasm, she will enter her classroom not only to teach the subjects and the courses that the curriculum demands, but also with the hope that the majority of her students will carry one of the three insignia of the Day of Silence movement.

Miss ‘Nibi,’ as her students affectionately call her, is responsible, together with Hope Center counselor Alexa Maestranzi, for meeting weekly with the Inclusivity Club at Berry Creek Middle School, one of the many clubs that fight nationwide for the inclusion of students who belong to or sympathize with the LGBTQ+ movement. As its name implies, the club seeks to integrate any student into school life or the community regardless of the person’s sexual orientation.



“We realized that more and more students are exploring their identity and we wanted to provide a safe place for them to do so,” Nibbe said when asked about the origin of the club. “We want to raise awareness for various different groups in order to strengthen our school culture with ideas of inclusiveness,” Nibbe said.

“During their weekly half-hour meetings the group is dedicated to dealing with issues ranging from race, gender, sexuality and any other aspect that students find important to their community. In addition to the Day of Silence, we plan to organize more events that help increase inclusion in our school and in the community,” Nibbe said.



Since the Inclusivity Club is new to Berry Creek Middle School, their first big activity and first big accomplishment is promoting the Day of Silence on May 6. Dozens of permits and communications have already been previously sent to homes so that families know the origin and level of participation in this peaceful protest.

Nibbe and Maestranzi created this group last February and to date it already has 10 members. Recruitment has not been an easy task, but that is the struggle of the group and the intention of the Day of Silence.

But what is the day of silence itself?

Originally the Day of Silence has been celebrated since 2011 on the second Friday of April. Students sympathetic to the LGBTQ+ movement come together nationally – and globally – to peacefully protest against bullying and discrimination.

The protest is just that: Spend a whole day in silence, and there are three levels of participation. If the person wears a green badge, this means that they have your support, but the person will not be able to remain silent during the day. The second level is the yellow, where the person will only focus on not talking unless it is absolutely necessary and the last level is the red level, where the person has committed to not talking at all.

The first protest of this kind began at the University of Virginia in 1996. Students Maria Pulzetti and Jessie Gilliam demonstrated on their campus in a way that was both visible and peaceful.

By 1997 the movement became national, with almost a hundred colleges and universities participating. In 2002, the teacher-founded advocacy group GLSEN adopted the event to launch it as its own project and sponsor it, since it corresponds to the same principles of equality that the educational entity seeks.

According to the GLSEN website, nine out of 10 LGBTQ+ students experience harassment, insults or aggression in their schools; one in three LGBTQ+ students skip school at least once a month because they feel both insecure and uncomfortable; and four out of five LGTBQ+ students do not see a positive representation of their cause in the curriculum of their schools.

In 2008, the Day of Silence was dedicated to eighth grader Lawrence “Larry” King of E.O. Green Middle School in Oxnard, Calif., who was shot by a partner, in what was recognized as a crime of a homophobic nature.

Although the Day of Silence is purely for students, it is important that their work and their “silent voice” transcend to all homes.

To learn more about the event visit GLSEN.org/Day-Of-Silence.


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