Hundreds of thousands of students from every state and at least 7,400 middle and high schools participated in GLSEN’s 15th annual Day of Silence on Friday to bring attention to anti-LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) name-calling, bullying and harassment.
To bring attention to this problem, students across the country participated by remaining silent throughout the school day, unless asked to speak in class. Many explained their participation in this year’s Day of Silence by handing out speaking cards that read:
Please understand my reasons for not speaking today. I am participating in the Day of Silence, a national youth movement bringing attention to the silence faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and their allies. My deliberate silence echoes that silence, which is caused by anti-LGBT bullying, name-calling and harassment.
I believe that ending the silence is the first step toward building awareness and making a commitment to address these injustices. Think about the voices you are not hearing today.
Nearly 9 out of 10 LGBT youth (86.2%) reported being harassed at school in the past year because of their sexual orientation, and 3 out of 5 LGBT youth (60.8%) felt unsafe at school because of their sexual orientation, according to GLSEN’s 2007 National School Climate Survey of more than 6,000 LGBT students.
The Day of Silence originated at the University of Virginia in 1996 and has grown each year, with GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network) coming on as national sponsor in 2001.
“The Day of Silence makes visible the efforts of amazing student leaders all over the country who are working to make their schools safer and more welcoming for all students,” GLSEN Executive Director Eliza Byard said.
“The courage of these students has built this event into a powerful annual reminder of the urgent need for action to address anti-LGBT behavior and bias in our schools.”