Yesterday, Bowdoin students emerged en masse sporting yellow T-shirts emblazoned with the phrase, "Respect. All sexualities. All genders." The second-annual "Yellow Shirt Day" is organized by the Bowdoin Queer Straight Alliance (BQSA) in support of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, and queer (LGBTIQ) community at the College. Students of all sexual orientations were encouraged to wear the yellow shirts in a display of solidarity with their LGBTIQ peers.
Although Yellow Shirt Day may create a feeling of solidarity among some Bowdoin students, it also constructs an artificial divide between those who choose to participate and those who do not. Whether you're uncomfortable expressing your sentiments in such an overt way or you just don't look good in yellow, there are many reasons other than lack of support for LGBTIQ students for choosing not to sport the shirts. And for some, it might be more unsettling seeing the many students who aren't wearing yellow T-shirts than it is reassuring to see the the students who are. The lack of a yellow shirt can lead to unfounded assumptions about an individual's tolerance of diversity.
There is no way to measure whether Yellow Shirt Day made an impact on the LGBTIQ community, or whether students of all genders and sexualities really do feel more comfortable on campus as a result. But without question, the event does present us with an opportunity to think harder about how we voice our beliefs on campus.