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Day of Silence and Night of Noise spread to Fort Collins

This+is+the+design+displayed+on+Rae+Melbergs+button+that+is+passed+out+around+the+school.+Voronins+featuring+a+pride+flag+with+the+word+Ally+spread+across+it.
Rae Melberg
This is the design displayed on Rae Melberg’s button that is passed out around the school. Voronin’s featuring a pride flag with the word “Ally” spread across it.

 

Day of Silence occurs every year on April 12. Beginning at the University of Virginia in 1996 it is now recognized nationally as the day of protest against LGBTQIA+ harassment in schools.

Students at Fossil Ridge High School can participate either by staying silent throughout the day, wearing a medical mask on the face or wrist, or even wearing a pin provided by the Gender & Sexuality Alliance (GSA) club around the school.

“We felt it was important to stand up and speak out this year and try to get that message out to people,” says Todd Forkner, the teacher advisor for GSA.

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Day of Silence is a way of peaceful protesting that highlights the discrimination and silencing of the LGBTQ+ community while also celebrating the people that make up the Fort Collins and Fossil community.

“Being out there, being proud, hopefully, will encourage others to be out there and be proud, and even if other people don’t want to participate, still knowing that there are queer allies or queer people participating in this event, hopefully still makes them feel comforted,” says Marigold Nugent, a student and a Fossil student organizer for this event.

Nugent has been the main student to present at administration meetings regarding Day of Silence and is the reason why Fossil is involved this year.

“It’s all about visibility. I think that putting your voice behind something is very powerful,” Nugent says.

On the day of, the GSA club will stand outside in front of the school to provide pins, this setup can also be found during lunch the week of April 8-12.

Todd Forkner handing out pins and notecards at a Day of Silence booth in the commons, April 8. (Sophie Webb)

The pins were designed by Rae Melberg and Delaney Voronin.

“[For] Day of Silence, we’re [wearing] masks, and I go, ‘Well, it’s perfect. I’ll just make a person with a mask and the pride flag’,” Melberg says.

The gender of the person in her design is meant to be confusing, potentially being a female, male, non-binary, or other.

“It’s a boy or girl,” Melberg says, “It’s either, neither also.”

Melberg grew up in Florida where teachers and students were told to “silence the gay”, this topic is especially important to spread since she was not able to express herself growing up.

“Being in that environment was just so horrible, and I’m so happy to be part of [Day of Silence] because it makes me feel like I had my voice a little heard and it’s just so great,” Melberg says.

Along with the pins she and Voronin designed, there will also be notecards with colored borders.

“On the front end will have the actual information [about Day of Silence], but on the back, it will allow participants to explain why they’re personally participating in the Day of Silence,” Nugent says.

At the end of school, the silence will “break” and that is when the day transforms into the Night of Noise, the celebration just beginning.

After students are silent for the day they are able to go to the Lory Student Center Plaza located at Colorado State University and join in a march to the Fort Collins Museum.

From there, the museum will be filled with activities ranging from poetry reading to GSA competitions, to see which schools bring the most support.

The notecards given to students will be displayed on a bulletin board in rainbow order, symbolizing the journey each individual student took to get to this celebration.

“Being able to have an event like this where people can have a space to celebrate, to see all these safe adults show up for them… I think it’s a really powerful thing to remind people that there is solidarity, there is support, and that there are resources for them,” Ash Tumbleson says, the Northern Colorado Youth Program Assistant at Out Boulder County, the company who is helping set up Night of Noise.

Nugent has been working alongside other interns from Out Boulder County—a non-profit organization that specializes in supporting LGBTQIA+ members—to plan the event.

“I’ve been contacting drag performers, I’ve been coordinating the schedule, I’ve been creating the itinerary alongside three other interns, and it’s been extremely exciting,” Nugent says.

Planning with Nugent is Tumbleson, who has been with Out Boulder County since November.

Night of Noise has been a popular annual event with Out Boulder County, but now they are expanding to Fort Collins, planning since the beginning of March.

Day of Silence and Night of Noise originally started out separate, but Nugent and Tumbleson worked together to create an all-inclusive event that not only captures the devastating hardships associated with the community, but a celebration of people proud to be who they are.

There will also be a second Night of Noise happening at the Boulder Public Library at the same time as the Fort Collins location.

        It’s all about visibility. I think that putting your voice behind something is very powerful

— Marigold Nugent

“We saw a need here for LGBTQIA+ services, that wasn’t fully being filled,” Tumbleson says. “Our view is that you can never provide too many services for LGBTQIA+ people.”

The march will begin at the Plaza, passing through the administration buildings of CSU, down College Avenue, and will be a one-mile march to the museum.

Once they arrive at the museum, the festivities will take place from 6:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.

“There’s been a ton of anti-trans and other anti-LGBTQ policy across the United States this year,” Tumbleson says. “These things like drag and Planned Parenthood and celebrating LGBTQ+ identities, is really being vilified across the nation right now.”

Tumbleson and Nugent have been working towards creating a welcoming community for members, and since GSA is a student-led organization there is a high chance Fossil will continue Day of Silence.

“We’d like it to be a tradition, you know, and a regular thing to bring that visibility to the cause,” Forkner says.

Other schools have also been invited to the Night of Noise and to participate in Day of Silence with the hope of spreading the word around Larimer County.

“This feels like an especially good time to join in community and celebrate our queer and trans-identifying youth,” Tumbleson says.

This story was originally published on Etched in Stone on April 10, 2024.