WINCHESTER, Va. - "So it’s kind of like putting yourself in their position just silencing yourself because imagine if you couldn’t talk for a day or if you couldn’t talk about how you felt about your family and stuff like that,” explained Ucee Nwachekwu, Co-Captain Day of Silence Against Homophobia, Shenandoah University.
Nwachekwu’s logic is why students at Shenandoah University, a school affiliated with the Methodist church, say they are organizing a day of silence against homophobia -- highlighting issues that continue to divide the religious community.
"Homophobia it’s just a question within religion itself because there are people who are religious who accept it and then there are people who are religious who don’t," said Nwachekwu.
Shenandoah University has a non-discrimination policy and an official said that all people on campus “are welcome and respected”
A statement, Alex Carney who self-identifies as “Queer,” said holds-true.
"Shenandoah is a really inclusive campus in my opinion. There are a lot of people who are out. In fact a lot of spiritual life people... are openly queer or openly supporters,” explained carney, the president of Spectrum at Shenandoah University.
Regardless, Carney says there is still work to do.
The Gay Lesbian and Straight Education Network, the organization that facilitates the nationwide event says 90% of LGBTQ students say their school does not have an anti-bullying policy that specifically protects LGBTQ students.
Additionally, the organization reports that “over 78% of students were not taught positive representations about LGBTQ people, history or event in their schools.” Whereas students who were, were less likely to miss school, reporting they felt “more comfortable.”
Carney, who has participated in the event in the past, said the event makes her grateful she feels comfortable being openly queer.
“It got me very emotional that I couldn’t do that [speak] and I was like wow there are so many people in this world who have to live that every single day, so tomorrow we're providing like a safe space where people can do art and just be in community with one another as they go through this,” said carney.
On Friday students at thousands of schools nationwide including Shenandoah, will wear “Day of Silence” stickers and remain entirely silent for hours.