April 22, marks the annual Day of Silence, led by the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), to raise awareness about the discrimination and harassment LGBTQ+ students face in schools. The Day of Silence has been held each year in April since 1996.
King School observed the day as a Day of Action with optional student-led initiatives to celebrate and support members of the LGBTQ+ community. The Gender and Sexuality Awareness (GSA) Club in King’s Upper School organized a gathering to mark the occasion. “Here at King, part of our values is that individuals are able to be seen as their authentic selves,” said Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Dr.Clyde Beverly III.
“That is why this Day of Action is so important. It is a day when we expressly show our support and affirmation for our LGBTQ+ community,” said Beverly at the outdoor event that took place at the Performing Arts Center courtyard. “Today, we invite members of our community to stand in solidarity with and speak up for those who have been silenced.”
Students, faculty, staff, and administrators were present in support of the initiative. Leaders of the GSA club Jax Wentworth ’24 and Olivia King ’24 addressed the crowd.
“Awareness is so important to prevent discrimination and make all members of our own King community feel welcomed and safe here. Even something as small as respecting someone’s pronouns goes a long way,” said Jax. “There’s such importance to having a safe space like that in every single community and in every school,” added Olivia.
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Coordinators Elisa Shapiro and Sara O’Toole shared pronoun pins, stickers, stamps, and art supplies with the participants, who dressed colorfully, listened to music, socialized, and expressed themselves with chalk art to culminate the event.
"When I was in high school, schools didn’t have GSA clubs. There were very few gay people who were visible,” said Shapiro. “There weren’t very many celebrities, images, or words to connect with and say, ‘this is what I’m feeling.’ I eventually found a community, and I can say that it was truly life-saving. I’ve seen how important that visibility is.”
Diversity and Inclusion are core values at King and a pillar of the school’s strategic plan. As a school focused on providing a deeply engaged student experience, King is committed to fostering a respectful and inclusive environment where every voice is heard, respected, and valued. As stated in the school’s Diversity Statement, “We support our commitment with action. We work to build a community that is truly diverse. Proactively and consistently, we challenge stereotypes, create awareness, and develop educational programs that are informed by, and responsive to, our values.”