GLSEN's Day of Silence to Raise Awareness about Anti-LGBT Bullying at Thousands of Schools on Friday
Students from More Than 6,000 Middle and High Schools Already Registered
NEW YORK, April 13, 2010 - Hundreds of thousands of students at thousands of middle schools, high schools and colleges will participate in GLSEN's 15th annual Day of Silence on Friday (4/16) by taking some form of a vow of silence to bring attention to anti-LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) name-calling, bullying and harassment.
Students from more than 6,000 middle and high schools already have registered as participants at www.dayofsilence.org for the student-created and student-led event sponsored nationally by GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network.
Students typically participate by remaining silent throughout the school day, unless asked to speak in class. The event is designed to illustrate the silencing effect of anti-LGBT bullying and harassment on LGBT students and those perceived to be LGBT.
"Anti-LGBT bullying is a pervasive problem in America's schools and creates unsafe learning environments for countless youth," GLSEN Executive Director Eliza Byard said. "The Day of Silence was created by students as a simple yet powerful way to raise awareness about a problem that very few schools adequately address. More than a decade later, the Day of Silence is an example of how people of any age can bring about positive change by working together to make their world a better and safer place."
The Day of Silence originated at the University of Virginia in 1996 and has grown each year, with GLSEN coming on as national sponsor in 2001.
Research has continually shown that anti-LGBT bullying is commonplace in American schools.
Two of the top three reasons students said their peers were most often bullied at school were actual or perceived sexual orientation and gender expression, according to From Teasing to Torment: School Climate in America, a 2005 Harris Interactive report commissioned by GLSEN. The top reason was physical appearance.
Nearly 9 out of 10 LGBT youth (86.2%) reported being verbally harassed at school in the past year because of their sexual orientation, nearly half (44.1%) reported being physically harassed and about a quarter (22.1%) reported being physically assaulted, according to GLSEN's 2007 National School Climate Survey of more than 6,000 LGBT students.
The report also found that 3 out of 5 LGBT youth (60.8%) felt unsafe at school because of their sexual orientation.
To bring attention to this problem and explain their participation in the Day of Silence, students often hand out speaking cards on the Day of Silence that read:
Please understand my reasons for not speaking today. I am participating in the Day of Silence (DOS), a national youth movement bringing attention to the silence faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and their allies. My deliberate silence echoes that silence, which is caused by anti-LGBT bullying, name-calling and harassment.
I believe that ending the silence is the first step toward building awareness and making a commitment to address these injustices. Think about the voices you are not hearing today.
GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, is the leading national education organization focused on ensuring safe schools for all students. Established in 1990, GLSEN envisions a world in which every child learns to respect and accept all people, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression. GLSEN seeks to develop school climates where difference is valued for the positive contribution it makes to creating a more vibrant and diverse community. For information on GLSEN's research, educational resources, public policy advocacy, student organizing programs and educator training initiatives, visit www.glsen.org.
DiversityInc's Senior Vice President and Executive Editor Barbara Frankel is on GLSEN's national board of directors and is the co-chair of NY Respect Awards on May 24, 2010.
***E-mail to find out if students from schools in your area are participating***