Over the past 4 years attending my high school in the suburbs of New Jersey, I have seen many students and faculty members participate in the Day of Silence. To be honest, when I was in middle school, and even high school, I believed students used this day to just get out of participating in a class that they did not like, but as I learned more about this day, I realized silence signified something so powerful.
In my school, every year a week before the Day of Silence, high school students visit middle school classes to discuss LGBT issues, bullying, and the day of silence itself. This day is called The Day of Acceptance. This past Thursday, I decided to participate in this event, and the response I received from the 8th grade class could not have been more positive. We discussed what it would feel like keeping one’s identity a secret, and we also discussed how to not be a bystander when bullying happens, but an up-stander. The ideas and comments that were coming from these 8th graders were so mature and supportive. Because this class was so responsive, we went on to discuss the Day of Silence. I was happy to find out that the middle school already knew about this day and what it meant, and I was also happy to learn that acceptance and maturity about the topic of sexuality has increased since the time I was in middle school, which was not even so long ago.
Although there are not many out students at my school, there are many straight allies, like myself, that are willing to advocate for those voices that could not be heard today. Overall, I think that only good can come out of the Day of Silence. Each year I see more students participating, more students becoming aware of LGBT issues, and more students showing their support. The enthusiasm is spreading, and this year will be my first year participating in the Day of Silence. I have always thought about doing so, and although I am already a senior at my school, it is better late than never.
As a high school senior, I look back on the times at my school, and I am so proud that so many people stay silent throughout this day to signify the silence that many people in the LGBT community, especially teens in high school, are subjected to because of their sexual orientation. Even though I see some students begin to talk toward the end of the day, it just shows how hard it is to be silent. I have spoken to students and faculty about their silence and they all say how difficult it is to not express themselves for just one day. That one day of silence can signify a lifetime in the eyes of someone who is closeted, bullied, or a part of the LGBT community. One day is definitely not too much to ask because just one day of being silent can help and support others around the world to find their voice to speak up.
GLSEN's Day of Silence is approaching! Have you ordered your Day of Silence merchandise yet?
We want to let you know that today, April 14th, is the last day to order merchandise and be sure it arrives by the Day of Silence without paying extra for rush shipping! Express, overnight shipping is available as well, so you can still order next week.
Check out this video that our student ambassador Camile made:
Make sure to order your t-shirts, buttons, stickers or posters before next week! You can get all the official Day of Silence gear at our brand new webstore!
If you haven't already, don't forget to register!
Next Friday, April 19th, hundreds of thousands of students will participate in GLSEN’s 18th annual Day of Silence, a student-led day of action to raise awareness about anti-LGBT bullying, harassment and discrimination. The student participants and their supporters believe that LGBT students deserve to go to school in a safe and respectful environment.
Sadly, not everyone agrees.
Once again, anti-LGBT extremist Linda Harvey is on the attack — demonizing LGBT people, misrepresenting the Day of Silence’s purpose, and in some cases telling outright lies.
Hear what she has to say while learning the real facts behind Day of Silence and GLSEN’s work to create safer schools in this video:
We are happy to announce that we have completed the judging process for the 2013 Creative Expression Contest for No Name-Calling Week. The competition was tough this year with submissions from all over the country. After much debate, we are excited to announce, that Larchmont Charter Elementary School is the winner!
The judges loved the way Larchmont creatively connected social justice leaders throughout history to the NNCW mission. Civil Rights heroes featured in the mural faced bullying and were consistently called names, but they responded with nonviolence, setting an example for every student. Larchmont’s “mosaic mural aims to represent visually that each and every student plays a part in achieving a school culture of nonviolence and peace where there is no place for bullying or name calling.” Larchmont has made a clear commitment to ending name-calling and bullying. We will reward this effort with a No Name-Calling Week Prize pack. For their efforts, Larchmont will receive:
- A No Name-Calling Week plaque
- 27 books from the Simon and Schuster Children’s Library
- Tip sheets
- Wrist bands
- DVD of "Speak Up" a documentary introduced by Barack Obama
- DVD of Cartoon Network PSA's
- DVD of Anderson Cooper specials
- Stop Bullying: Speak Up posters
- GLSEN's Safe Space Kit
- GLSEN's Ready Set Respect
Once again, congratulations to all of the participating schools. You should be proud of the effort you have made to end name-calling and bullying in your community.
Update: The Rutgers Athletic Department announced this morning that they have terminated the contract of Mike Rice.
Like many, I watched the recently aired video of Coach Mike Rice and the Rutgers University’s Men’s Basketball team in disbelief. Of course this was not the first piece of evidence that suggested to me that there is much work to be done in combating anti-LGBT attitudes and behavior in sports, but this perhaps more than other examples showed just how pervasive the culture of dis-respect in sports is and how casually common anti-LGBT language is hurled around on courts and fields and in locker rooms and arenas, including those in K-12 settings.
Findings from GLSEN’s 2011 National School Climate Survey confirm that LGBT students experience discrimination and harassment in school sports. Over a quarter of LGBT student athletes reported having ever been harassed or assaulted while playing on a school sports team because of their sexual orientation or gender expression. What’s worse is that they and their teammates experience that this is okay (and in the case of Coach Rice may even be rewarded with coaching positions in big-time college sports programs).
Watching a local news channel interview a former RU player who dismissed the coaches’ behavior as nothing out of the ordinary made me refocus my gaze as I watched the video footage again – this time focusing less on the coach but more on the team members and their reactions (or non-reactions). They seemed to respond in a way that said to me that this was not new to them (from this or other coaches they had played under).
As we do at GLSEN, my thoughts then turned to K-12 school sports as I imagined these players first as student athletes learning to accept or even expect such treatment from their coaches and then as current or future coaches of youth sports themselves either replicating that behavior or choosing something better for their athletes. I wondered if they, and the hundreds of other players Coach Rice has had the opportunity to model appropriate coaching behavior for over the years, would choose to coach differently. I hoped that they would instead of choosing to follow in Coach Rice’s footsteps they would instead choose to use the tools that GLSEN has created for just this purpose as part of Changing the Game: The GLSEN Sports Project. I hoped that they would take to heart the first recommendation from the Game Plan for Coaches that Coach Rice seems to have missed in his training which is “Be a visible and active role model of respect and fairness for your team.” This is how the coach of a winning team behaves.
Robert McGarry, Ed.D., Director of Education
DiversityInc, the leading source of information on diversity management, has been a GLSEN partner for five years. For four years, Barbara Frankel, Senior Vice President, Executive Editor has served on GLSEN’s Board of Directors and has supported corporate initiatives to broaden awareness of LGBT issues in education.
In recognition of its partnership with GLSEN, DiversityInc is offering GLSEN supporters a special opportunity to attend its flagship conference, D&I Dialogue: Sharing Successful Strategies on Engaged Workplaces April 23-24 in New York City. The 2013 DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity will be announced at dinner on April 23.
The 2013 conference will be highlighted by a debate between social and political commentator Ann Coulter and Georgetown University sociology professor and author Dr, Michael Eric Dyson at the April 23 dinner. The April 24 day program .will feature CEOs and chief diversity officers from the top companies discuss best practices and moderate beginner and advanced track sessions on strategies such as resource groups, talent development and diversity budgets.
GLSEN supporters receive a I5% discount on tickets by clicking here. Use the special GLSEN promotion code GLSEN50 for the discounted price. For more information, please contact Nicole Dewhurst at 973-494-0503 or ndewhurst@Diversitylnc.com. To see the complete agenda, visit http://www.diversityinc.com/diversity-events
As a middle school student, I faced many challenges trying to organize a Day of Silence event at my school. I faced resistance from school administrators and people in the community. In a perfect world, schools would recognize the need for events like the Day of Silence, as well as how important it is that students have the right to hold events like it. This is not always the case, and it wasn't for me.
I decided to hold a Day of Silence event at my school because it was a place where students needed to be educated about people whose identities and experiences are different from their own. Having this awareness can prevent the use of hurtful language and a hostile school climate.
I saw the Day of Silence as a perfect opportunity to say to my peers, “Hey, let’s stop for a second and think about the experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students in this school. Let’s think about the gay or transgender jokes and slurs we hear in the hall or on the bus. Let’s think about how school policies and the actions of students and staff can help to shape a school environment where either some students feel like they are silenced by bullying or can’t speak up because no one will listen or understand. Let’s create an environment where everyone feels free to have their own unique voice and be themselves, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.”
Because of the challenges I faced, I was not able to organize a successful Day of Silence in middle school, which was definitely a disappointment. But the good news is that, despite this fact, I don’t regret my many attempts at doing so. One thing I did get to do is start a conversation with my school administrators and even some students about the need for education and action to ensure that everyone can learn in a place where they feel respected and valued, every day.
This year, I am a freshman at a high school in the same district that is much more supportive of events like the Day of Silence. I've started a GSA, which has already hosted a successful Ally Week, and I am more than a little bit excited about our very first Day of Silence this April 19. I hope that it will be a day where my fellow students and I can reflect on what a loss it is for voices around the school to stop for even one day. But more than that, I hope it will be a day that sparks discussion and change for the rest of the year and beyond, as we join the millions of students, educators, and community members who are already taking so many steps to break the silence faced by far too many LGBT students. I hope that no one ever gives up on trying to participate in the Day of Silence, starting a GSA or changing policies at their school.
Because it may be really hard—just like staying silent for a whole day (and I’m a talker, so I know it’s tough)— but it can also bring a lot of people together to produce incredible understanding and change. And isn't that what the Day of Silence is really all about anyways?
Are you participating in this year's Day of Silence? Register here for exclusive tips and resources for organizers. Want to show off your support? Let your shirt do the talking with Day of Silence shirts and other gear from our store.
Sultana High School is censoring and discriminating against its Gay-Straight Alliance. The Hesperia, CA school is limiting the GSA from using LGBT-inclusive language and participating in activities like GLSEN's Day of Silence and Ally Week.
Today is the first school day since news broke last week during Spring Break that the ACLU of Southern California sent a letter demanding the school district stop discriminating against the school's GSA.
As they return to school today, the GSA members could face retaliation for their decision to stand up to their school district.
Along with our partners at the ACLU Foundation of Southern California, It Gets Project, and the California-based GSA Network, we want to send a clear message to Sultana High GSA members as they head back to school:
We are proud of you and we've got your back.
They believe that every student deserves to be safe and treated with respect, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression. Help us show them that people all across the country stand with them against discrimination.
The members of Sultana High School's Gay Straight Alliance (GSA) have a bullying problem.
The students can't go to their teachers for help because the bullies at Sultana aren't their classmates; they're the educators and administrators who should be protecting them.
The ACLU Foundation of Southern California (ACLU/SC) sent a formal complaint to the school district today, objecting to the school's systematic discrimination of the GSA and of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) and gender non-conforming (GNC) students.
Teachers at the school discriminated against students who are or are perceived to be LGBT and GNC, often using biased remarks in the classroom. In one case, a teacher told a student who had not received a valentine on Valentine's Day that it was "because you’re gay and nobody wants to be with you." Administrators also blocked the posting of GLSEN "Think Before You Speak" flyers which explained why the slurs used by some educators — such as "that's so gay"— have no place in schools.
Students observing GLSEN's Day of Silence also encountered resistance from school staff and teachers. For instance, a teacher forced one participant to sit in a corner by herself for the duration of a class period. On last year's Day of Silence, another teacher remarked to the class that “the gays are the real bullies.” Thorough it all, school administrators have refused to effectively reprimand and educate the offending teachers. Changing this is vital, because fostering supportive teachers gives LGBT students a greater sense of belonging in their school communities, according to GLSEN's 2011 National School Climate Survey.
In addition, school officials treated the GSA differently than other student clubs, censoring its speech and obstructing its activities. They changed the club's announcements to omit any reference to LGBT youth, and routinely blocked movie viewings at the club. GLSEN's 2011 National School Climate Surveyfound that GSAs are a huge asset for LGBT youth in schools, making students feel less unsafe because of their sexual orientation than those without a GSA (54.9% vs. 70.6%).
Teachers and administrators have a duty to create safe and affirming schools for all students, including those who are LGBT or GNC. GLSEN is seriously concerned that the school is blocking proven resources that improve school climate from reaching students. We encourage the district to listen to the ACLU/SC and take actions that help, not hurt, all of its students.
Last month we launched our new store, making it easier for you to get gear for actions,
reports and research, and fun swag to show off your support for GLSEN and safer schools.
Now, Day of Silence is just a little more than a month away, so it’s time to start preparing!
We have the awesome shirts you see here, as well as posters, buttons, stickers, and temporary tattoos.
There’s everything you and your GSA need to make your Day of Silence a success!