On Friday, April 20, I along with countless others across my school, across the nation, and with any luck, across the world will zip my lips shut and throw away the key. I will not utter one word in passing to my friends. I will not say anything to anyone. I will express my freedom not to speak, and I will do it because my silence means something. A lot of people don't understand how silence can solve anything, and honestly, it doesn't. But it opens people's eyes, and that's a start. My silence, and the silence of my peers who join me, symbolizes the silence of victims of bullying who are too afraid to speak up, and the silence of those who took their own lives to escape the torment.
My best friend, who is my most-used example for bullying, depression, and suicidal tendencies, is a self-harmer and a long-time victim of bullying because she's lesbian. She and I fight an endless battle for her safety, her happiness, and her health. She wouldn't have made it this far alone-it's because she has me that she's still here today. I don't say that because I'm trying to make a point, I say that because it's completely true. She once told me that I am the only thing that keeps her from killing herself when she's that close to the edge of the cliff.
Her school will not help her. She has told them about the unsafe environment she is in, and they tell her there is nothing they can do. Thankfully, she's switching to my school next year, and my principal protects his students no matter what. But I worry about her every day, and it's for her that I am going silent on Friday. It's for her that I do anything that relates to bullying awareness and LGBTQ rights. I do it because my best friend is a beautiful, intelligent, talented girl who just wants the bullying to stop.
So I won't say a word. And on Friday, I hope that the silence of all the participants speaks louder than the voices of those who oppose us. My fellow students need to understand what happens if they bully others: silence will reign. Silence is the aftermath of bullying, whether because the victim ends up six feet under or because the victim is too frightened to ask for help. Silence is the enabler of bullying, as well, because your silence when you see someone being bullied allows the bully to torment that child.
North Carolina's Amendment One is another reason I'm not going to say a word. This state has been my home for six years and six months. It has been my best friend's home for her whole life, as far as I'm aware. And this state is allowing the citizens to vote on the definition of marriage, thereby allowing them to have a say about the validity of someone else's marriage, and that disgusts me. For every person who doesn't head to the polls on May 8, for every person who can't (like me, since I'll only be sixteen come the 8th), that is one less vote against or for the amendment, and for all I know, that one vote could make all the difference. I hope that the citizens of my state will make the right choice and vote against this discriminatory amendment, but hope is all I have.
My silence speaks louder than anything you can say when I'm joined in it by hundreds or thousands of other people. So on April 20, I implore you all to zip your lips and throw away the key. It's not as hard as it sounds, and that's coming from a loud girl who can't shut up. If you care about your bullied peers, this is the one day where you have to stay silent in order to speak up for what's right.