National Day of Silence – anything but silent

SPU students speak out about LGBTQIA+ rights

On April 14, students at Seattle Pacific University gathered outside of Demaray Hall to honor National Day of Silence by being intentional about breaking the silence on LGBTQIA+ issues on campus.

Rae Perez, a third year English literature, social justice and cultural studies and honors liberal arts major spoke at the protest.

“National Day of Silence was started by GLSEN quite a few years ago as kind of a movement to hold space for silence in order to recognize the harm that is contributed within spaces that stay quiet on social issues, specifically in relation to LGBTQIA+ rights,” Perez said. “This year, what they’re doing is having a day of no silence to speak to the fact that we already are being silenced, censored, shut out, told that are lives don’t matter, being denied access to gender affirming care and being outlawed from living in certain states and being forced to detransition.”

The event began with a moment of silence, and ended the silence by reading the names of the 46 trans and nonbinary people who have been killed since the beginning of 2022. There were also speeches from Dr. Christopher Hanson, Rae Perez, and Dr. Kevin Nuehouser, as well as free hats, pins, and scarves for attendees. The rally ended with a foot washing ceremony, which has been tradition at the previous National Day of Silence protests at SPU.

“The first time, we were going to break the silence with Communion and the University told us we were not allowed to do that,” Neuhouser said. “The interesting thing is that the Day of Silence kind of lapsed after SPU recognized Haven as a club because it felt like we had a voice. But this year, we started again because it’s starting to feel like the university is pushing back towards silence.”

This year however, SPU was also hosting an admitted students event and having the protest at the same time was a surprise for Jayla Harper, the campus program coordinator for Student Involvement and Leadership.

“It has been interesting knowing that that’s happening and that there’s a new group of students that are coming to see what our campus is like. If I were a student I feel like it would help me to know that there are people that care,” Harper said.

For Hanson, today was an opportunity to think about and reflect on one’s own identities.

“Who do I represent myself to be, who celebrates my identities, whether they’re professional, personal, social, cultural or even political? We must recognize what we chose not to represent the many arenas we operate in and we must recognize who is not celebrating our many identities, but in fact, may actively be working to suppress them,” Hanson said

Elena Queen is a freshmen business administration major and attended the rally.

“I’m here today because I am bisexual,” Queen said. “This is a community that I really love, and it pains me to see the absolute atrocities for people like me and people who support me.”

As issues surrounding the LGBTQIA+ community have been around for years at SPU, this rally was a reminder that the community is not done protesting.

“We are still here, and even as SPU declines queer presence will still exist,” Perez said. “And even if SPU were to turn into this small little conservative school, where you weren’t allowed to be queer, even as a student attending, there still would be queer people on this campus. We can’t be eradicated. We can’t be pushed out.”