April 19th is National Day of Silence
What is The Day of Silence?
The National Day of Silence is a day of action in which students in the U.S. vow to take a form of silence to call attention to the silencing effect of anti-LGBT bullying and harassment in schools. Founded in 1996 at the University of Virginia, The Day of Silence by 2008 was in 8,000 middle schools, high schools, colleges and universities across the country.
Did you know that?
· LGBT students skip school at least one day per month.
· 80% of LGBT students are verbally harassed each year at school.
· 40% of LGBT students are harassed.
20% are physically assaulted because of their sexual orientation.
GLSEN, Gay, Lesbian, Straight, Education Network, an organization that promotes safety in schools, has ways of organizing school events not just for The Day of Silence, but for the entire school year. Check out Glsen’s website: http://www.glsen.org.
Know Your Rights
Silent protests are protected by the U.S. Constitution. Case in point: Amber Hatcher is a sophomore at DeSoto County High School in Arcadia, Florida. She was suspended last year for participating in GLSEN’s National Day of Silence, because school officials say that peaceful protests, including protesting the bullying of LGBT students, are against school district policy.
Lambda Legal, the nation’s oldest and largest legal organization working to protect the civil rights of GLBT citizens and people with HIV/AIDS, website: http://www.lambdalegal.org. is suing the school to defend Amber’s right to participate in this year’s Day of Silence. While you do have a right to participate in the Day of Silence between classes and before and after school, you may NOT have the right to stay silent during instructional time if a teacher requests for you to speak.
The right to speak, according to Lambda Legal, includes the right to wear buttons or T-shirts expressing support for a cause. If you think your rights are being violated, or want to report your experience of a resistant administration, you can report it on GLSEN’s website and both GLSEN and Lambda Legal will review your situation.
When Your Child Is Gay: What You Need To Know
For more detailed advice, see book, co-authored with a mother of a gay son and a psychiatrist, Jonathan L. Tobkes, M.D.