The Day of Silence is about sharing the stories of teens who endure homophobia
New York (Vocus) April 17, 2009 –-
Hundreds of thousands of students are participating in GLSEN’s 13th annual National Day of Silence today by taking some form of a vow of silence to bring attention to anti-LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) name-calling, bullying and harassment.
Students from more than 6,000 middle schools, high schools and colleges registered as participants for the Day of Silence, a student-created and student-led event sponsored nationally by GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network. Students typically participate by remaining silent throughout the school day, unless asked to participate in class. The event is designed to illustrate the silencing effect of this bullying and harassment on LGBT students and those perceived to be LGBT.
“The Day of Silence is about sharing the stories of teens who endure homophobia,” said Conrad Honicker, a 17-year-old junior from Knoxville, Tenn., who is participating in the Day of Silence today. “Whether we're straight or gay, anti-LGBT bullying is hurting us all.'"
Some students are holding the day in memory of Carl Walker-Hoover, an 11-year-old from Springfield, Mass., who took his life April 6 after enduring constant bullying at school, including anti-LGBT attacks. Carl, who did not identify as gay, would have turned 12 today.
Two of the top three reasons students said their peers were most often bullied at school were actual or perceived sexual orientation and gender expression, according to From Teasing to Torment: School Climate in America, a 2005 report by GLSEN and Harris Interactive. The top reason was physical appearance.
Nearly 9 out of 10 LGBT youth (86.2%) reported being verbally harassed at school in the past year because of their sexual orientation, nearly half (44.1%) reported being physically harassed and about a quarter (22.1%) reported being physically assaulted, according to GLSEN’s 2007 National School Climate Survey of more than 6,000 LGBT students.
“Hurtful words affect all people directly and indirectly,” said Marcel Salas, a 17-year-old senior and straight ally from Brooklyn, N.Y. “My silence along with the silence of thousands of middle school, high school and college students will not be that of fear or indifference. Our silence will symbolize the need for safer schools across the nation, and our silence will be deafening.”
Participating students often hand out speaking cards on the Day of Silence, 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, the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, is the leading national education organization focused on ensuring safe schools for all students. Established nationally in 1995, GLSEN envisions a world in which every child learns to respect and accept all people, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression. GLSEN, sponsor of the Think Before You Speak national public service advertising campaign, seeks to develop school climates where difference is valued for the positive contribution it makes to creating a more vibrant and diverse community. For information on GLSEN’s research, educational resources, public policy advocacy, student organizing programs and educator training initiatives, visit http://www.glsen.org.