Students Participate in Day of Silence 2012

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth across the nation are making a statement today through the annual Day of Silence organized by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN). The Day of Silence encourages students not to speak in order to raise awareness about anti-LGBT bullying in schools.

                                                      Students created the first National Day of Silence 16 years ago at the University of Virginia and has since grown to all 50 states, the district of Columbia, and countries around the world.  In 2001, GLSEN became the official sponsor.   The yearly event is now viewed as a way for students to show solidarity for victims of bullying and “to draw attention to the ‘silencing effects’” of anti-LGBT harassment.  It is consistent with similar projects that GLSEN promotes throughout the rest of the year, such as providing guidance to start Gay-Straight Alliances and GLSEN chapters at local middle and high schools, developing research on the effects of harassment, and creating campaigns such as “Think B4 You Speak,” which discourages youth from using anti-LGBT language. 

Hundreds of thousands of students are expected to be participating in this year’s Day of Silence, and gotten considerable press coverage.  Several youth testimonies (those of Sam Harman, Chelsea Shamy, and Hannah Kreider) were spotlighted today in the Huffington Post.  Hannah Krieder, a high school student from Virginia, writes her reasons for participating in Day of Silence are connected to her faith.

I see my participation in the Day of Silence as an act of my Christian faith. My participation is guided by my favorite verse, Colossians 3:14, which reads, ‘But most of all, let love guide your life.’ Until stories like mine are no longer the minority, I encourage anyone and everyone to take the vow of silence with me.

These testimonies also remind us that religion is not a monolithic suppressor of voices, but often is a part of many LGBT people’s lives.  We do know, of course, not all LGBT people and allies have the same experiences with this day.  For those who are met with resistance, Lambda Legal has provided a resource for students to learn about their legal rights in the context of their activism on this day.  Students who are participating can also register their participation online in order to demonstrate the strength of youth on this day.

GLAAD is committed to the safety of LGBT students in their schools and community.  School support systems and education about the harms of harassment are more important than ever, as reports by GLSEN reflect shocking levels of bullying towards LGBT and LGBT-perceived youth.  GLAAD applauds GLSEN on its leadership throughout the Day of Silence and will continue to monitor media coverage of different events around the country.