Hundreds of thousands of students at thousands of schools around the world on Friday are participating in GLSEN’s (the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network) 18th annual Day of Silence by taking a vow of silence to draw attention to the anti-LGBT harassment and discrimination in schools.
“The Day of Silence has grown into one of the largest student-led actions in the world because of students’ determination to directly address the pervasive issue of anti-LGBT behavior and bias in our schools,” said Dr. Eliza Byard, GLSEN’s Executive Director.
Founded in 1996, the Day of Silence was created by students at the University of Virginia with over 150 students participating in the inaugural event. In 2001, GLSEN became the official organizational sponsor for the event with increasing participation every year.
In 2012, students from more than 8,000 middle and high schools in every state, the District of Columbia and 70 countries around the world participated in the Day of Silence.
Today, to once again bring attention to the harmful effects of anti-LGBT bullying, students participating in the Day of Silence take a vow of silence throughout the school day, unless asked to participate in class
Many students will hand out speaking cards, which read:
“Please understand my reasons for not speaking today. I am participating in the Day of Silence (DOS), 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.”
This year, GLSEN is also encouraging Day of Silence student participants and their supporters to take part in the “Selfies for Silence” photo campaign. Individuals are asked to snap a photo with a printable Day of Silence sign asking them to share what they are doing to end the silence around anti-LGBT harassment and discrimination.
Additionally, U.S. Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) introduced a resolution in the U.S. House of Representatives commemorating the Day of Silence.
Article continues belowDay of Silence resolutions were also introduced in six state legislatures, including California, Illinois, Michigan, New York, Ohio, and West Virginia.
“The Day of Silence raises important awareness about bullying in schools,” said Chase Stein, a 17-year-old high school student from Beverly Hills, Michigan. “All students – including myself – deserve to feel safe in school.”
According to GLSEN’s 2011 National School Climate Survey of more than 8,000 LGBT students, four out of five LGBT students reported being harassed at school in the past year because of their sexual orientation, and more than 31 percent reported missing at least a day of school in the past month out of fear for their personal safety.
GLSEN has advised students who experience any resistance to Day of Silence organizing or activities from school staff to submit an incident report at www.dayofsilence.org/legalhelp.