Day of Silence Crucial for LGBT Youth of Color

Today, GLAAD has been proud to stand in solidarity with youth around the country in recognizing Day of Silence, a student-led national event that brings awareness to anti-LGBT name-calling, bullying and harassment in schools for LGBT and straight students alike.

Day of Silence begs the question: What will you do to end the silence? This is an important probe, especially when it comes to LGBT young people of color, as it asks for a unified front to battle the discrimination and bullying that LGBT youth endure in the school environment. Their safety and academic success is at risk due to fear of bullying and harassment. For students of color, these risks of academic and social failure are even higher. We should all proudly stand in solidarity for today's movement and recognize their strength and dedication in this political action for over 15 years.

For students of color, this Day of Silence is particularly important because these students must cope with racial oppression and their sexual identities. Studies have showed the detriment that LGBT students face academically and socially, but this is further complicated when race oppression occurs as well. In 2006, The Journal of Sex and Research found that only 71% of Latinos, 61% percent of African Americans and 51% of Asian Americans were out to thei parents, as opposed to 80% of their white counterparts.

GLSEN'S report, Shared Differences: The Experiences of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Students of Color in Our Nation’s Schools highlights these very differences. GLSEN reported that though momentum for LGBT research in schools is on the rise, there is a lack of awareness around the particular and unique discrimination and victimization that students of color face. GLSEN's Executive Director, Eliza Bayard stated: “This report provides alarming evidence that we must act now to ensure that America’s LGBT students of color are safe in schools.”

According to this report, more than half of students of color had faced discrimination based on their race and this is particularly alarming in schools where these students are minorities and identify as LGBT.

GLSEN has been instrumental in completing studies that address LGBT issues in K-12 education since 1990. With nearly nine out of ten LGBT students experiencing harassment in their schools, it is vital that schools address these issues and create and implement policies that address the safety of LGBT students as well as an exhaustive knowledge about the unique experiences that students of color face. Not only is it integral for the creation of policy around these issues but  schools, administrators and students must also take an active role in educating one another about the dangers of bullying. This is a time for empowerment.

Recently, GLAAD recognized Bully, at the 23rd Annual GLAAD Media Awards. This jarring documentary casts real depictions of the effects and trauma of bullying. Documentaries such as Bully, events like Day of Silence and organizations like Gay Straight Alliances (GSA) across the nation all take a role in asking schools to implement policies that will protect students regardless of sexual identity, gender expression and race.

Please join GLAAD, GLSEN, GSAs and many individuals and organizations as we come together to recognize the inherent dangers of bullying. Break the silence on these issues and take action!

You can find more research on anti-LGBT bullying and harassment in schools, here.  You can also ‘tweet the silence’ at #DayOfSilence and continue to spread the word globally.