'Breaking the Silence' rally planned at Charlotte LGBT center
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — News station WSOC (Channel 9) will air a special on bullying on Thursday at 7 p.m. The one-hour special, ”9 Investigates: Stand Up to Bullying,” will be anchored by the station’s Erica Bryant and Blair Miller from North Charlotte’s Walter G. Byers Elementary School and will feature discussion of a variety of bullying topics, including the experiences of LGBT young people.
Rodney Tucker, executive director of the Charlotte LGBT youth services agency Time Out Youth, said the station filmed some of its youth members at their offices and followed one of their youth to school. The station also interviewed Tucker and some of the student’s teachers.
The televised special will focus on solutions to bullying. WSOC will monitor social media during the event on its Facebook page and its Twitter profile using the hashtag #StandUpToBullying. Experts from Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools will also staff a phone bank during the special. The station is also offering a resource guide on its website.
The WSOC special comes one day before Friday’s Day of Silence. The nationally-organized event from the Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network attempts to raise awareness of anti-LGBT bullying. Students take vows of silence during school in a symbolic act representing the silence in which many LGBT youth must live and learn.
Time Out Youth and other community partners have planned a “Breaking the Silence” rally and picnic on Friday evening. The event at the LGBT Community Center of Charlotte, 2508 N. Davidson St., begins at 5:30 p.m. and will feature music, games and food. Students will share their reflections from the Day of Silence. Other speakers include Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Board of Education member Tom Tate and Western North Carolina U.S. Attorney Anne Tompkins. A “We Won’t Be Silenced” awareness demonstration at the LGBT center from 5-5:30 p.m. will precede the rally and picnic.
In Gaston County, students at Highland School of Technology included the Day of Silence in a week-long slate of other awareness activities raising awareness for the school LGBT and straight ally student club. The week’s events, dubbed “Tolerance Week,” had been criticized by a Gaston County school board member, who also serves as a youth pastor at a local church. The events, defended by school leaders, went ahead as scheduled.
[Ed. Note -- This story has been edited. The "We Won't Be Silenced" demonstration will not be held in Uptown, as originally reported. It will be held at 2508 N. Davidson St. We regret the error.]