Thousands of students throughout thousands of schools around the world on Friday participated in the 19th annual “Day of Silence” held by the GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network).
According to the LGBT Nation, students took a vow of silence to draw attention to the anti-LGBT harassment and discrimination in schools. Dr. Eliza Byard, GLSEN’s executive director, gave this statement on the Day of Silence:
“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.”
The Day of Silence originated back in 1996, when students at the University of Virginia founded it. Over 150 students participated in the inaugural event. In 2001, GLSEN became its official organizational sponsor with increasing participation every year. Since then, it has grown into a landmark event with students in more than 8,000 schools participating.
On Friday, the Day of Silence calls the harmful effects of anti-LGBT bullying again. Participating students will take a vow of silence throughout the school day, unless asked to participate in class. They even have speaking cards to hand out 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.”
GLSEN is also encouraging students participating to bring it forward through social media, primarily Twitter. GLSEN is prepared to assist the social media movement with the hashtag #DayofSilence, along with numerous graphics. Even USA Today is assisting with an update on their Twitter.
However, not everyone is happy about the Day of Silence. Katu reports that students protested the event by wearing anti-gay t-shirts saying, “Gay Is Not OK” and “Gay Day Is Not OK”.
Unfortunately for the students wearing the shirts, the majority of students are “not okay” with the shirts they are wearing. Even the school administrator stated that the shirts are not allowed on campus, either by turning them inside-out or taking them off.
The Day of Silence happens annually, usually around April.
[Images via GLSEN’s DOS Graphics]