Most students at San Francisco's O'Connell High remained silent in the classroom Friday. A simple sticker alerted others they would keep to themselves -- something many homosexuals and transgender students do to prevent being harassed.
"They are silenced because they don't feel the school is a safe place for them to come to or they don't feel they can be who they are because they are afraid of being bullied and harassed," said Eric Rose of the Gay-Straight Alliance.
One student explained what it is like being gay in high school. "It feels terrible. It makes me feel like I'm a nobody, just trash, or a worthless human being. It really hurts a lot," said the student who wished to remain anonymous.
"Day of Silence" began 13 years ago at the University of Virginia. It was intended to raise awareness to the problems that community faces. And of course, not everyone was on board. For example, opponents of same-sex marriages responded by holding their own event called "Day of Silence Walkout," urging parents to take their kids out of school on this day.
"Had I known about the day of silence, I would have kept my child home from school today," said parent Eric Santos.
Santos says a month ago his son was forced to attend an assembly on sexual orientation at his school in the San Mateo Union School District.
"I think the schools should just rely upon educating our children with mathematics, with science, literature and so forth, and keep the sexual orientation out of the school district," said Santos.
Thursday, the student council at American River College in Sacramento adopted a resolution opposing the national day of silence.
Those who favor the event were hoping the day of silence would promote more dialog on the issue of sexual orientation.