April 16 is the annual Day of Silence. Students vow to be silent on this day to call attention to the silencing effect of anti-LGBT name-calling, bullying and harassment in schools. Hundreds of thousands of students across the country will take part in this student-led action to educate their schools and communities and to encourage others to address the problem of anti-LGBT behavior in schools. Founded in 1996, the Day of Silence has become the largest single student-led action towards creating safer schools for all, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.
Some LGBT students and straight allies will not speak for most of the day. Instead, they will hand out “speaking cards” which say:
“Please understand my reasons for not speaking today. I am participating in the Day of Silence, a national youth movement protesting the silence faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and their allies. My deliberate silence echoes that silence, which is caused by harassment, prejudice, and discrimination. I believe that ending the silence is the first step toward fighting these injustices. Think about the voices you are not hearing today. What are you going to do to end the silence?”
Participants are silent to symbolize the silencing effect of homophobia/transphobia and anti-gay bullying and harassment. Even today many LGBT individuals feel they must keep their identities secret or face reprisals from friends, family and the culture at large. Nearly 9 out of 10 LGBT students (86.4%) said they had been harassed in the past year, according to GLSEN’s 2007 National School Climate Survey of more than 6,000 LGBT students. Additionally, 60.8% said they felt unsafe at school because of their sexual orientation. LGBT youth are especially at risk, but anyone can be negatively impacted by living with oppression. Just one year ago 11-year-old Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover killed himself after experiencing daily anti-gay bullying at school.
This event is sponsored by GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network. GLSEN also supports a Federal Anti-Bullying Bill:
On the eve of the anniversary of 11-year-old Carl Joseph Walker Hoover’s suicide due to bullying, his mother Sirdeaner Walker and GLSEN have launched a petition and call to action in support of the Safe Schools Improvement Act, a federal anti-bullying bill with 101 bipartisan cosponsors.
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