How Your Silence Can Speak Volumes on This Year’s Day of Silence

Editor’s note: This Care2 favorite was originally posted on April 14, 2016. Enjoy!

April 21 is the GLSEN Day of Silence, a day used to protest the inequalities faced by young LGBTQA people — and this year, with the political onslaught we’ve seen targeting trans students, it’s even more important.

The National Day of Silence emerged from a student-led action by Maria Pulzetti at the University of Virginia in 1996. From there it blossomed into a national event.

Day of Silence aims to spread awareness of the chilling effects of anti-LGBTQA bullying and harassment. The event effectively turns the silence that used to be imposed on LGBTQA issues into an empowering moment of solidarity, allowing LGBTQA people, as well as their family and friends, to come together and show they are a force for inclusion and acceptance.

The following video from GLSEN explains it well:

This event is especially relevant in like of recent legislation and policies by states like Kentucky, South Dakota and North Carolina. Similarly, “bathroom bills“ have targeted trans students and, against federal law, alienated them from other students by mandating that they use facilities in accordance with their assigned birth sex and not their true gender identity.

This state-sanctioned bullying, if you will, is difficult to address, but students have a constitutional right to participate in a Day of Silence. Students may choose to still speak in class if called upon — that’s completely fine — or may give teachers some advance notice about their intent to ensure they do not come across as disrespectful.

One way students can use this year’s Day of Silence to highlight the issues facing trans students, in particular, is to print news articles or social media links to stories about what anti-trans policies can mean for students and how they harm the entire school environment.

Participants may choose to highlight the story of Leelah Alcorn who, due at least in part to the anti-trans discrimination she faced, took her own life in 2014. On the flip-side, they may also choose to highlight trans role models like fitness star Aydian Dowling or writer, TV show host and activist Janet Mock by sitting in silence and watching educational videos about these icons:

The purpose of highlighting these exceptional people is to show LGBTQA students that, despite what might be happening in state legislatures right now, they are valued members of society. Together we can overcome discriminatory attitudes.

The Day of Silence can also be an affirmation of LGBTQA progress. Consider launching a discussion about how the community has evolved from its earliest days at Stonewall — or even before. By acknowledging that LGBT rights has a long history, and delving into those stories, we can help to unlock a sense of community for LGBTQA students who, until now, may have felt isolated or cut off by their differences.

If you are an educator and you’d like tips on how to help students participating in Day of Silence, this video has some great advice on how to include the Day of Silence while also ensuring that class time is not disrupted:

Lastly, you can find more resources and ideas for the Day of Silence over at the GLSEN website.

Photo Credit: liltito1/Flickr

101 comments

Angela K
Angela Kabout a month ago

noted

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Carl R
Carl R2 months ago

Thanks!!!!

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Christian M
Christian Menges2 months ago

Thanks

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Carl R
Carl R2 months ago

Thanks!!!!

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Carl R
Carl R2 months ago

Thanks!!!

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Leo C
Leo C2 months ago

Thank you for posting!

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Caitlin B
Caitlin B2 months ago

Thanks for sharing

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Ingo S
Ingo Schreiner2 months ago

thank you

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Elaine W
Elaine W3 months ago

I am straight but not narrow and I believe in equal rights to protect us ALL.

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Beth M
Beth M3 months ago

I am straight & will fight for the LGBT community till my death.

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