“Actions Speak Louder Than Words”:  GLSEN’S Day of Silence

 Yearly, the Gay Straight Education Network hosts a Day of Silence for 10,000 schools across the country and world.  The purpose is to spread awareness about the effects of bullying and harassment of LGBTQ students, including those with disabilities and racial minorities.  This year, The Day of Silence will be April 23, 2021.

History of The Day of Silence

The Vow of Silence is a national student-led demonstration that was started at the University of Virginia in the mid-90’s. It has grown and has many supporters, including the ACLU LGBT & AIDS Project, Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA Network), It Gets Better Project, The Trevor Project, Lambda Legal, to name a few. This year’s theme is “My Silence, My Story” because LGBTQ people are often left out of the curriculum (e.g. history, health education) at schools.

Every April with The Day of Silence, students do not speak but pass out “speaking cards” while they are silent to protest the silencing and erasure of the LGBT population.  At the end of the day,  they can hold Breaking the Silence rallies and events. Then they share their experiences and draw attention to improvements that their schools and communities can make when they are more inclusive.

Activities for Participating In-Person, Virtually, or Both

Lessons and Activities that you can prepare before Day of Silence can be viewed at https://www.glsen.org/day-of-silence.  Register to get the latest updates on resources and special opportunities that you can download for your school and communities. For example, there are virtual and in-personal guides, Zoom backgrounds, palm cards, and Break the Silence rally guides.

Not Sure How To Start Preparing?

If you’re not certain how to start organizing, GLSEN has last year’s National Student Council’s, Day of Silence stories and Zines as well as blogs. GLSEN’s Instagram will have special guests throughout the afternoon.  You can also get ideas to take action, become an organizer and advocate when you register for your GSA (Gay-Straight Alliance).

For A Virtual Participation

In order to participate, set up a Zoom, Google Hangout, Skype, invite your GSA as well as others in your school district to join virtually.  You can all Break the Silence together at 7 p.m. by un muting yourselves and yelling or saying relevant words.  You also could have a movie party.  Pick appropriate movies with an LGBT-theme such as Hairspray, Love, Simon that also have discussion guides.

Some GSA Activities

You may want to use GLSEN’s GSA activities and use one or more to teach others on how to build a more inclusive school environment for LGBTQ+ students:

  • Pronoun Guide: aimed at addressing students with the pronouns they prefer.
  • Learning Empowerment and Self-Identification.
  • LGBT History Cards
  • Inclusive Curriculum guide
  • Gender Triange Education Guide

Make An Art Wall & Other Ideas

Work with your school administration on selecting a location to host an art wall.  Spread the news by posting your art on your social page and at school, tag @GLSEN and hashtag#Day of Silence.  Write poetry and put it on the wall as well.

Make a Zine. Share the National Council’s zine.  Connect with the closest GLSEN Chapter to you and share your Zine.  If you tage @GLSEN and use hashtag #Day of Silence and #Breaking The Silence, you could be featured on GLSEN National Social Media outlets!

For more information, visit GLSEN.org/Day of Silence or email students at glsen.org.

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Wesley Cullen Davidson

Wesley Cullen Davidson is an award-winning freelance writer and journalist specializing in parenting as well as gay and lesbian content. For the past two years, Wesley has concentrated almost exclusively on the lesbian and gay community, specifically on advising straight parents of gay children on how to be better parents and raise happy, well-adjusted adults

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