The National Day of Silence is a student led action that brings attention to harassment and bullying of LGBTQ students. Participants do not speak for the entire day in order to educate others about the “silence” that LGBTQ youth experience when they are not permitted to be themselves because of harassment.
Students hand out cards that say something like this:
“Please understand my reasons for not speaking today. I am participating in the Day of Silence, a national youth movement bringing attention to the silence faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and their allies in schools. My deliberate silence echoes that silence, which is caused by name-calling, bullying and harassment. I believe that ending the silence is the first step toward fighting these injustices. Think about the voices you are not hearing today. What are you going to do to end the silence?”
Our culture works hard to silence the voices of LGBTQ people. This happens through indimidation, stereotyping, blocking rights and laws that support LGBTQ rights, perpetuating myths, and thousands of “microaggressions” such as only having check boxes for “married, divorced, widowed or single.” Family members, colleagues, neighbors and friends silence LGBTQ people when they don’t invite a partner to a party where other spouses are invited, homophobic remarks, making negative comments about gender expression, and by cutting out LGBTQ loved ones from their lives.
Young people are especially impacted by this pervasive silencing. While young people are in the process of figuring out their identity and place in the world, they are hearing all around them “there is something wrong with you” and “no one wants to know about your authentic self.” Worse, they risk being physically and emotionally harmed and even ejected from their homes. The Gay and Lesbian Times reports that the San Diego LGBT Community Center receives requests from approximinately 40 youth per month who were kicked out of their homes for being LGBTQ. Dependant on parents, teachers, principles, school counselors and coaches for support, youth often have many fewer places to turn if these usual sources of help are homophobic or transphobic.
Enforcing silence is effective for instilling fear, confusion, and self-loathing in those who don’t fit the sexual orientaiton “norm.” However, youth who speak up, find community, visibility and a voice can often increase their overall mental health, sense of wellness, strength and resilience. On April 17th, they’ll be doing this through silence.
Get involved at http://www.dayofsilence.org/index.cfm