A local student is making sure a Virginia-born tradition supporting the LGBTQ community is represented at Patrick Henry High School next month.
Kevin Willis, 16 and a senior at the Hanover County school, has gathered over 200 signatures from students who aim to take part in the annual Day of Silence, a national event which aims to bring awareness to anti-LGBTQ teen bullying.
The National Day of Silence traces its roots to right here in the Commonwealth in 1996 when UVA student Maria Pulzetti noticed an anti-LGBTQ bullying trend around her and decided to draw attention to the issue.
“I wanted to do something for BGLAD week that would impact many people at the school and that would be very visible,” Pulzetti told The Nation in 2010. “I knew that if we held panel discussions and events like that, the only people who would come would be the people who already were fairly aware.”
Every year since the national organization GLSEN encourages students around the US to work with their schools to talk about bullying and stay silent for a day in April, usually around the 19th.
“I just want to make this school and community a better place and more tolerant,” he said. Willis then gathered signatures from students who said they would also take part in the event – sure enough he got 217 names in two days. He dropped them off at the principals office who has since said they’ll allow the event to happen.