To raise awareness about bullying, name calling and harassment faced by gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people, a group of students at Winthrop University decided to make a quiet statement. In fact, they decided not to speak at all.
Students participated in a day of silence Wednesday. They wore red duct tape over their mouths and did not speak during the day.
"We found that sometimes standing out by being silent can be more visible and can make more of an impact," said Jay Ault, political action chairman for GLoBAL -- the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender and Ally League. Ault removed his duct tape briefly to speak to The Herald. "This has more people coming up and saying, 'What's going on? Why do you have red duct tape on your mouth?' than we would if we had speakers up here."
Part of national movement
The Winthrop day of silence was part of a larger national movement, but most schools will participate Friday.
The 10 to 15 Winthrop participants were armed with fliers explaining why they remained silent.
Students set up informational tables and banners on the steps of Byrnes Auditorium, where reactions were mixed.
Some passersby gave the duct-taped students strange looks out of the corners of their eyes. At least one yelled an obscenity from across the courtyard, Ault said.
"Whenever you're working for change, it's going to happen," he said.
Many people were more receptive to the message, stopping to sign an "ally pledge," stating that they will try to understand and honor people's differences.
Sophomore Pam Fairchok said the demonstration was a great way to get the word out.
"I know people that are homosexual or bisexual, and I think it's really terrible that they are persecuted the way they are," she said. "I think no matter what your sexual orientation is, you're still a person."