Frequently Asked Questions
What is GLSEN®?
GLSEN, or the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, now in
its twelfth year, is the leading national education organization
addressing the serious problems of anti-Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual,
and Transgender (LGBT) name-calling, bullying and harassment that
affect ALL students – LGBT and straight alike – in our
nation’s schools. 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.
For more information on GLSEN’s educational resources, public
policy agenda, student organizing programs or development initiatives,
What is the Day of Silence®?
The Day of Silence (www.dayofsilence.org), a project of the Gay,
Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), is a student-led
day of action where those who support making anti-LGBT bias unacceptable
in schools take a day-long vow of silence to recognize and protest
the discrimination and harassment -- in effect, the silencing --
experienced by LGBT students and their allies.
Who started the Day of Silence?
In 1996, students at the University of Virginia organized the first
Day of Silence in response to a class assignment on non-violent
protests. Over 150 students participated in this inaugural DOS.
In 1997, organizers took their effort nationally and nearly 100
colleges and universities participated. In 2001, GLSEN became the
official organizational sponsor for the event.
Has the Day of Silence been successful?
In past years, more than 500,000 students at nearly 4,000 K-12 schools,
colleges and universities organized Day of Silence events. These
numbers make the Day of Silence one of the largest student-led actions
in the United States. The event has drawn significant attention
to LGBT issues in schools over the years. For example, GLSEN spokespersons
have appeared on national media outlets and there has always been
extensive local media coverage from coast to coast, with numerous
interviews with students.
Why do we need a Day of Silence?
GLSEN’s 2005 National School Climate Survey found that 4 out
of 5 LGBT students report verbal, sexual or physical harassment
at school and more than 30% report missing at least a day of school
in the past month out of fear for their personal safety. The Day
of Silence helps bring us closer to making anti-LGBT bullying, harassment
and name-calling unacceptable in America’s schools.
The Day of Silence
is a call to action. Students can use this day, as well as other
GLSEN Days of Action, as a means of achieving an “ask.”
An ask is a very specific action that calls for a change in school
policies, climate, and culture to achieve a larger goal of safe
schools for all, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression.
Some examples of an ask include: adding sexual orientation and gender
identity/expression in your school’s non-discrimination or
anti-harassment policy, or training teachers to respond effectively
to anti-LGBT bullying, harassment, and name-calling. For more information
see: ‘How To Get What You Want With An Ask’ [PDF]
I'm in middle school. Can I organize a Day of Silence at
The Day of Silence can logistically be organized in any school,
public or private, middle school, high school or college. However,
in middle and high schools, getting support from the school administration
is critical. Students should not assume that administrators would
not support their efforts--even if they have not supported LGBT
issues in the past--because it's always important to ask and provide
information to win support. Read more about getting administrative
support in the Day of Silence Organizing Manual [PDF].
How do the Day of Silence activities affect the school day?
GLSEN encourages students to participate in the Day of Silence in
cooperation with their schools. We encourage students to get support
from their principals and other school staff. While some students
choose to be silent for the day, some participants are simply silent
for part of the day, during lunch, or at community events. Students
may also participate in “Breaking the Silence” rallies,
events at which students come together at the day’s end to
express themselves and share their experiences with members of their
What other things can I do to create an effective Day of
An important part of the Day of Silence is creating educational
opportunities before and/or after the event. Many people will be
affected by this event, and will want to know more about the silence
LGBT people and their allies face. Good follow-up events include:
workshops, speakers, entertainment, or any other venue for evaluation,
education, and discussion.
I want to help organize this regionally and nationally.
What can I do?
Great! There are several ways you can become more involved. The
first step is simply signing-up for the day of silence on www.dayofsilence.org.
Next you can contact a local student organizer (on the www.studentorganizing.org
home page under the yellow tab "get support") and inform
them of all you’re doing locally. They can help you do more
in your city, state or region, and become more connected.
year, a new National Jump-Start Leadership Team is chosen from students
who apply all across the country to help support hundreds of local
organizers within their states and regions. If you will still be
in high school next year you can apply for one of these positions:
Click here for the Jump-Start application.
How much does it cost to register as a participant in the
Day of Silence?
Absolutely nothing, except the few minutes needed to fill out the
Student Organizing registration.
Can you send my school a packet of materials for the Day
Certainly! Simply register online at www.dayofsilence.org and we’ll
happily add you to our mailing list to receive resources and support.
What happens if my school doesn't support the effort?
GLSEN is actively encouraging all students, particularly those from
middle and high schools, to secure school permission for the event.
We believe that such support is critical for many reasons. We encourage
students in those schools where support is unlikely to build campaigns
to try and secure that support or work with their administration
on compromises of activities the school will allow. We also encourage
students to identify events and ways to participate outside of the
If your administration
does not support an official Day of Silence event there are alternative
activities that you can engage in. Please refer to: “Tips for
the Last Minute Organizer or Those Whose Administration Has Said
Does the work end after the day is over?
The Day of Silence is one element of a larger effort to create safe
schools for all students regardless of sexual orientation and gender
identity/expression. Many communities, in addition to supporting
the Day of Silence, host Breaking The Silence events, rallies, legislative
lobby days, performances and more – both on the Day of Silence
and all year round. We are also asking our national leaders to support
policies that create safe schools for all. Many communities are
asking their local and state leaders to support and implement similar
policies. You can get connected to an ongoing national effort by
registering your GSA with GLSEN at www.studentorganizing.org.
What do you have to say about potential opponents to the
Day of Silence?
The issue at hand is the bullying, harassment, name-calling and
violence that students see and face in our schools. The Day of Silence
is an activity created and led by students to educate their peers
and bring an end to this harassment.
We look forward
to engaging all organizations and individuals who share The Day
of Silence vision of schools free from anti-LGBT name-calling, bullying
Those who do
not support the Day of Silence often protest, but rarely contribute
positively to finding ways to end anti-LGBT harassment. Some individuals
and groups organize events in response to the Day of Silence. These
events grossly mischaracterize or simply misunderstand the basic
purpose of the Day of Silence. Bringing attention to these events
only adds a false credibility to their misinformation about the
Day of Silence, GLSEN and the thousands of American students taking
action. If you face hostile students or organizations
in your school on the Day of Silence remember to remain calm. We
encourage you to not get into a debate, make gestures, and certainly
not to get into a physical altercation. If you continue to be harassed,
we encourage you to contact your GSA advisor or other ally school
of the Day of Silence come from the perspective of “reparative”
or “conversion” therapy and/or from the perspective
of “transformational ministries.” It is important to
note that “reparative therapy” has been rejected by
all the major health and mental health professions. Additionally,
the view of “transformational ministry” adherents is
not representative of the views of all people of faith. Finally,
the Day of Silence is about unacceptable behavior (anti-LGBT bullying,
harassment, and name-calling in schools) not debates about beliefs.
like to make a donation, how can I do it?
Contributions are greatly appreciated. You can support the Day of
Silence by making your donation to the project’s organizer,
the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN). For more
information on how to make a donation visit GLSEN’s website:
questions? Find your student organizers Click here.