Today is the 17th annual Day of Silence. Students across the country and beyond will be silent to support the people who are silenced everyday by bullying and harassment due to their perceived or actual sexual orientation or gender identity. Students will walk into their schools without the normal chatter and carry cards that explain why they're staying silent. Some students will even put duct tape over their mouths. For some, the silence will be deafening, for others only a handful of voices will go unheard today.
During the day, educators should look out for participants who are being bullied and remind students of the importance of advocacy days like this. Students should support each other and remember that there are people all over the country doing the exact same thing.
At the end of the day, many students will participate in Breaking the Silence or Night of Noise events. This is where the real work begins. Students who are surrounded by silence today might be surprised to realize who else supports the LGBT community and might make new friends in the process. Students who are more isolated, should use this opportunity to educate people. It is not fair to assume that those who did not participate are unsupportive, it's possible they did not know about the event or could not be silent for other reasons. It is important to discuss how the silence felt, both for those who were silent and those who were not, and what it might feel like to be silenced every day.
Hopefully, everyone has a safe and fun DOS. However, students who face opposition, it is a good idea to come together with your fellow DOSers or connect with GLSEN on Facebook or Twitter to come up with next steps for how to make your environment more inclusive.
Whether you can participate or not, don't forget to post a selfie for silence on the DOS's Facebook page, like these from GLAAD spokesperson and Strategic Giving Officer Wilson Cruz and Director of Spanish Language Media Monica Trasandes!