BY TARYN FITSIK
ALBANY, N.Y.--A national day of silence, to send an important message loud and clear.
Friday, local high schools and colleges are participating in one of the largest student-led, peaceful actions in the country, remaining silent to take a stand against the problems of bullying and harrassment.
"It's 100 percent key that students feel safe and that they feel they have a voice, a place to turn to," says Vincent Porfirio, Sage College's assistant dean of students.
That's why the Sage College of Albany hosted a number of events to bring awareness to some of the tough issues facing the gay and lesbian community. Namely, bullying and harassment that goes on in the schools.
"We need to see administrators, we need to see principals saying this work is important and empowering teachers to step in and intervene in the bullying," says Courtney D'Allaird, the Coordinator of Gender and Sexuality Resource Center for Ualbany.
An example of where that work is already being done is Shaker High School in Latham. Students have been taking part in the National Day of Silence for more than a decade, with year-round support from faculty and staff to end the bullying.
"They understand that they're welcome here, just like any other student, no matter who you are, and this is something they have the right to express," says Shaker High School Principal Richard Murphy.
The issue is also getting support from State Senator Neil Breslin, who spoke to the crowd at Sage during the speak "out" luncheon.
"I can see a day when we won't need this day of silence," says Breslin. "It's to really be very conscious of that positive peer pressure, and make sure it continues."
"I think any identity should be supported and should be given the opportunity for growth and education," adds D'Allaird. "I think that's what we're all trying to do here."