The Truth about the Day of Silence
Every year, more and more students participate in the Day of Silence, which began 13 years ago when University of Virginia students wanted to find a way to bring attention to anti-LGBT name-calling, bullying and harassment on campus.
As the day’s popularity and exposure have increased, many misperceptions have spread about what the Day of Silence is, why the day exists and what participating in it means. Here are 4 truths that address common misinformation about the Day of Silence.
1) The Day of Silence’s purpose is to bring attention to anti-LGBT name-calling, bullying and harassment and effective responses.
The goal of the Day of Silence is to make schools safer for all students, regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity/expression. In a Harris Interactive study on bullying, students said two of the top three reasons students are harassed in school are actual or perceived sexual orientation and gender expression. Additionally, nearly 9 out of 10 LGBT students experience harassment at school.
Students across the country participate in the Day of Silence to bring attention to this problem, let students who experience such bullying know that they are not alone and ask schools to take action to address the problem.
2) Hundreds of thousands of students of all beliefs, backgrounds and sexual orientations participate in the Day of Silence.
Anti-LGBT bullying and harassment affects all students. Slurs such as "faggot" and "dyke" are commonplace in school. The Day of Silence is an example of students, from middle school to college, working together proactively to bring attention to the anti-LGBT name-calling, bullying and harassment experienced by LGBT and straight students alike. GLSEN, the Day of Silence’s organizational sponsor, encourages participants to be counted by registering at www.dayofsilence.org.
Students from nearly 8,000 middle and high schools registered for the 2008 Day of Silence. GLSEN protects the privacy of students and does not publish a list of students who have registered or their schools.
Many students who participate also belong to Gay-Straight Alliance student clubs, of which nearly 4,000 are registered with GLSEN. The first GSA was created by a straight student over 20 years ago, in the fall of 1988.
3) Day of Silence participants encourage schools to implement proven solutions to address anti-LGBT name-calling, bullying and harassment.
Adopt and implement a comprehensive anti-bullying policy that enumerates categories such as race, gender, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation and gender expression/identity.
Provide staff trainings to enable school staff to identify and address anti-LGBT name-calling, bullying and harassment effectively and in a timely manner.
Support student efforts to address anti-LGBT bullying and harassment on campus, such as the formation of a Gay-Straight Alliance.
Institute age-appropriate, factually accurate and inclusive curricula to help students understand and respect difference within the school community and society as a whole.
4) The day is a positive educational experience.
The Day of Silence is an opportunity for students to work toward improving school climate for all students. GLSEN advises students interested in participating to discuss their intentions with their administration and teachers long before the event. The day is most successful when schools and students work together to show their commitment to ensuring safe schools for all students. Many schools allow students’ participation throughout the day. Some schools ask students to speak as they normally would during class and remain silent during breaks and at lunch. There is no single way to participate, and students are encouraged to take part in the way that is the most positive and uplifting for their school.
For the latest GLSEN findings about anti-LGBT bullying and harassment and the school experience go to: www.glsen.org/research