Day of Silence
When you think of your typical school ground, you don’t often think of them as quiet places of reflection and contemplation. They are often full of students’ laughter and conversation, school bells, gym teacher’s whistles, arguing friends, and fed-up administrators.
Yet on April 22, an unprecedented silence will run throughout elementary, middle & high schools throughout the United States. This silence, one shared by thousands across the country, will be in commemoration of the 26th annual Day of Silence.
“The GLSEN Day of Silence is a national student-led demonstration where LGBTQ students and allies all around the country—and the world—take a vow of silence to protest the harmful effects of harassment and discrimination of LGBTQ people in schools,” GLSEN wrote.
What once started as a smaller, locally-based commemoration eventually blossomed into a national one, GLSEN wrote, one that empowers students to create an environment that is inclusive, accessible, and welcoming for all LGBTQ students and peers.
“Started in the mid-’90s by two college students, the Day of Silence has expanded to reach hundreds of thousands of students each year,” GLSEN wrote. “Every April, students go through the school day without speaking, ending the day with Breaking the Silence rallies and events to share their experiences during the protest and bring attention to ways their schools and communities can become more inclusive.”
While Day of Silence and other commemorations such as Transgender Day of Visibility or Pride Month has aimed to raise awareness of the discrimination that the LGBTQ community faces on a daily basis, the goal of eliminating persecution is far from complete. Whether it be in the classroom, workplace, or other social settings, many within the LGTBQ community have faced persistent harassment, verbal abuse, and physical abuse at rates terrifyingly higher than in other communities, GLSEN reported.
“A recent GLSEN survey found that nearly nine out of 10 LGBT students reported being bullied or harassed at school. A third said they’d been physically attacked for being LGBT. Even worse, many are discriminated against by the very educators, principals, and administrators who are supposed to protect them,” the ACLU wrote in an article discussing the legal history of the commemoration.
While peer-to-peer bullying is often attempted to be thwarted through codes of conduct or other regulatory actions, teachers and administrators have a long history of leveraging their power to limit the expression of their students, the ACLU wrote. Day of Silence aims to better balance this oft-uneven power dynamic, and groups such as the ACLU and Human Rights Campaign have been long-time allies of students participating in the holiday’s commemoration.
“Anti-LGBT discrimination at school is just the latest manifestation of a long history of rogue school districts and administrators attempting to overstep their bounds and trample on the rights of students,” the ACLU wrote. “While most schools and educators respect the constitutional rights of their students, the ACLU has a long history of protecting students when schools overstep their bounds.”
On Day of Silence, be respectful of all of those who have banded together in commemoration. Whether directly partaking in the silence or serving as a supportive ally, we can all play a major role in this year’s Day of Silence and ensure that we are creating a more inclusive, diverse, and equitable world for all LGBTQ individuals, and students, or otherwise.
For local resources for those wishing to further their education on Day of Silence or to find out how to support LGBTQ students & this year’s commemoration, visit:
- GLSEN Connecticut, whose state chapter offers LGBTQ+ affirming books & curricula, training, and support channels for local students and educators.
- outCT, “the home of New London Pride,” which houses youth resources (The Trevor Project, TransYouth Family Activities, AGape LGBTQ Teen Support), donation opportunities, and information on the upcoming New London Pride Festival.
- Triangle Community Center offers clinical services including case management and counseling, as well as a variety of support and recovery groups for teens, young adults & adults.