Carlsbad sits silent for equal rights


Sierra Gomperts

Junior Maggie O’Rourke-Liggett was one of the many silent people who participated in the Day of Silence. Maggie, along with fellow GSA members and supporters, wore buttons, masks and t-shirts to support the silence movement.

Zak Jones, Section Editor

At times, silence is the most potent weapon for change.

Last Friday, the LGBT student community and its allies came together for an important cause.  The annual Day of Silence brings attention to the name-calling and belittling which forces gay students around the nation into a routine apathy and silence.

“Our silence is meant to echo their silence,” said Nicole Harris, an officer for the GSA club on campus.

Founded at the University of Virginia in 1996, the event aims to reflect the emotions of those bullied as a result of their sexual orientation. Since this date, students at all levels become silently outspoken for their cause every April 19.

Dressed in bright surgical masks, the Carlsbad participants associated with the school’s GSA club may have been silent, but not at all inconspicuous. They balanced a benign plea for change with their incendiary appearance of ignite a movement.

“In the past we’ve used duct tape, but it was a safety hazard,” said five-time DOS participant Maggie O’Rourke-Ligget. “[The surgical masks] were a new idea this year.”

Yet the issue in undergoing some expected conflict. More than just occasional jokes on their cause, the movement tests the free speech stated in the US constitution. In the case Tinker v. Des Moines (commonly  called the Tinker case), students wore black arm bands to speak out against the Vietnam War, but their punishment was retracted after the Supreme Court decided free expression does not end at the school-house door.

However, according to the official website of the Day of Silence, participants must comply if a teacher asks their participation. The problem can be avoided by bringing the issue up ahead of the date, or using cue cards as Carlsbad students did, but this lack of complete freedom worries some participants.

“If a teacher tells a student to answer a question during class, the student generally doesn’t have a constitutional right to refuse to answer,'” said Lambda law firm in a clarifying statement of the DOS official website (

Fortunately for Carlsbad students, few of the silent reported resistance to their movement, in part due to the GSA’s ten year history at Carlsbad High School.

The participants in the movement know their efforts will not go down in vain. After all, though the event is founded on silence, the message is internal as much as it is a call for change.