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For actual tips about organizing the Day of Silence in your school, be sure to read the Day of Silence Organizing Manual, and other resources, available on this website.

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© Copyright, 1996-2008 GLSEN
(Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network)
 


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, visit: www.glsen.org

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 my school?
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 local communities.

What other things can I do to create an effective Day of Silence?
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.

Also, each 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 of Silence?
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 school.

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 No” [PDF].

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 and harassment.

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 staff person.

Some critics 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.

I’d 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:
www.glsen.org/donate


Other questions? Find your student organizers Click here.