>The Day of Silence is only 2 days away! For today's entry, we have Audri, a student from Laurel, Mississippi. Audri recently attended GLSEN's Safe Schools Advocacy Summit, an annual event in Washington D.C. that trains student and adult advocates from across the country to better push for safe schools policies, and allows them to meet with their Congresspeople on Capitol Hill. Thanks, Audri!
I am Audri and I am a 15 year old out lesbian in Laurel, Mississippi. I was never silenced about being a lesbian, but I was bullied because of it. I was the only out LGBT person in middle school, and had a very masculine appearance. Many kids loved to taunt me because of that. I was called names, pushed around in the halls and bathroom, and people tried to trip me when I walked by. I knew that if I sought help from the school administration nothing would get solved. Not only would it not get solved, but it wasn't just students who bullied and harassed me. Teachers did as well.
There were times where I took matters into my own hands, and I was the one who got in trouble for that. Whether it was because I got in a fight because someone tried to trip me, or getting in an argument with a teacher because she treated me differently from everyone else in class I was the one in trouble. I felt that I was not a person to them. They didn't care to help me. My principal did help many ways, but even if I went to him about my bullying it would have only gotten worse. We didn't have a way to deal with kids being bullied. Because I was silenced about my bullying I was skipping school at least once or twice a week. I was constantly in the office and, couldn't get my work done in class. As a result of that my grades kept getting worse. I had gotten to the point where one day I just refused to go. That was towards the end of the school year of my eighth grade year. My mom withdrew me out of school that day.
Even though I am home schooled now I still celebrate Day of Silence. I feel like I am a part of something bigger than myself. Even though I am home schooled, and it is to just myself. I know that I am not alone in this. That I stand with thousands of kids all around the country that are supporting change in this movement as well. The Day of Silence is because of what I went through, and I want to be a part of that change. Even if it is just for me.
>We encourage each person to participate in the way they are most comfortable. Some will be silent all day long. Others will hold a silent lunch. Still others will be vocal supporters. The key is that you call attention to the silencing effect of anti-LGBT bullying and harassment.
During the Day of Silence many will be communicating online to show their support of the Day of Silence. It’s definitely okay to use Facebook, Twitter, texting and other forms of online communication during the Day of Silence, especially if you're spreading the word about DOS!
Also, on Friday we'll be Tweeting the Silence all day, so be sure to follow @DayofSilence on Twitter and tweet using the #dayofsilence hashtag. Stay tuned for more details!
>Day of Silence is around the corner! Maybe you haven’t had an opportunity to organize, or perhaps your school won’t support your participation. Don’t worry, there are still lots of things you can do to participate in the Day of Silence! Download Tips for the Last- Minute Organizer for seven suggestions of how you can still support the Day of Silence with little time or school support. Go to the Get Ready! section of the Day of Silence website for this and more resources to help you with your DOS organizing!
And remember, if you have any questions, please email us at email@example.com.
You asked for it, and you got it. Our new downloadable poster can help you can spread the word and gain more visibility about your Day of Silence events. Download the poster and print it out on a plain 8 1/2 x 11 sheet of paper. In the blank box write the date of your Day of Silence activities. It's a simple way to boost your organizing!
>Many of you registered for free Day of Silence products. We apologize if you have not yet received these materials. There have been some difficulties with the mailing, which have led to a significant delay in delivery. Although all materials have now been mailed and will begin arriving soon, some of you may not receive your packets until just before or possibly on or after the Day of Silence.
We are working to ensure that this problem does not happen again in the future. Please accept our sincere apologies for any inconvenience this may have caused you.
In the meantime, please consider using these resources to help draw attention to your Day of Silence activities:
Download this template and print your own Day of Silence stickers using AVERY standard name badge labels (Avery # 5395).
Download and print your own Day of Silence Speaking Cards on either a standard 8.5x11 sheet or on AVERY Standard 3263 Postcards. You can print double-sided to customize the back with local information.
If you have any questions please feel free to email firstname.lastname@example.org.
>Week 1 (April 12-16): Here at Last!
You’ve been planning for weeks, and the Day of Silence is almost here! There’s still much to do, and a lot of ways to participate!
- Spread the word: You've worked for weeks to get the word out about the Day of Silence, so keep it going! Make sure students, teachers and administrators in your school know that the Day of Silence is happening and what to expect from participants. Notifying people early is the key to a successful and effective Day of Silence!
- Be visible: Red is the official DOS color, so if everyone participating wears red you'll be sure to stand out. And don’t forget t-shirts, buttons, stickers, face-paint—these are all ways you can help draw attention to your action.
- Be respectful: The Day of Silence is about ending anti-LGBT bullying and harassment in school. To do this, it's important to treat people with respect. There are likely people at your school who will try to challenge your silence, your activities or your beliefs. Treat these people not as they treat you but with the same respect you hope to be treated with. Remember, the Day of Silence is a peaceful demonstration!
- Know your rights: Remember, you DO have the right to remain silent between classes and before/after school. You do NOT have the right to ignore your teachers' requests during instructional time. If a teacher asks for you to speak during class, do it! Please don’t put your education at risk. Review this document, which outlines some of your rights during the Day of Silence. (Lambda Legal PDF Download)
If you have any questions or ideas, or if you want to tell us what you’re planning for your Day of Silence please email us at email@example.com.
>GUEST POST FROM THE ACLU:
Two things I’ve learned over the years that I’ve worked with LGBT students at the American Civil Liberties Union are that many school administrators and teachers don’t have the slightest clue about what their students’ legal rights are, and that a lot of the ones who do know go right ahead and violate students’ rights anyway because they think they can get away with it.
The only way to be sure that your school will respect and uphold your legal rights is for YOU to educate yourself about what your rights are and hold your school to its responsibility to protect and enforce them.
That’s never more true than during the Day of Silence, an annual event designed to bring attention to the bullying, harassment, and name-calling LGBT students often experience in school. Here are four things you need to know about your rights as you mark Day of Silence this year on Friday, April 16.
1. You DO have a right to participate in Day of Silence and other expressions of your opinion at a public school during non-instructional time: the breaks between classes, before and after the school day, lunchtime, and any other free times during your day. If your principal or a teacher tells you otherwise, you should contact our office or the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network.
2. You do NOT have a right to remain silent during class time if a teacher asks you to speak. If you want to stay quiet during class on Day of Silence, we recommend that you talk with your teachers ahead of time, tell them that you plan to participate in Day of Silence and why it’s important to you, and ask them if it would be okay for you to communicate in class on that day in writing. Most teachers will probably say yes.
3. Your school is NOT required to "sponsor" Day of Silence. But Day of Silence is rarely a school-sponsored activity to begin with – it’s almost always an activity led by students. So don't be confused - just because your school isn’t officially sponsoring or participating in Day of Silence doesn’t mean that you can’t participate.
4. Students who oppose Day of Silence DO have the right to express their views, too. Like you, they must do so in a civil, peaceful way and they only have a right to do so during non-instructional time. For example, they don’t have a right to skip school on Day of Silence without any consequences, just as you don't have a right to skip school just because you don’t like what they think or say.
If you’re concerned that your school might forbid you from participating in Day of Silence, you might want to print out the ACLU's "Letter to Educators about the Day of Silence" (2-page PDF) and give it to your school administrators. Tell them they should show the letter to the school’s lawyer. The letter explains what schools' responsibilities are regarding Day of Silence.
And for more information on your rights in public schools, check out the ACLU's Youth and Schools Work website.
By Chris Hampton
Public Education Associate
American Civil Liberties Union
>We’ve received reports from a number of organizers who have suffered problems after wearing duct tape on their mouths. As a consequence we feel it is important to address this safety issue. While we have never encouraged nor endorsed wearing duct tape for the Day of Silence, we recognize that the symbolism of putting duct tape over the mouth has become quite popular amongst some DOS organizers.
Duct tape uses a very strong, water-resistant adhesive. When students attempt to take off the tape we have heard about a range of problems. In some instances there have been minor issues such as having difficulty removing the tape's glue from skin. In other more severe cases, students have experienced hair removal, rashes and skin irritation, and torn or ripped skin. Because of this risk, we do not recommend using duct tape on your skin during the Day of Silence. Your silence will be powerful without it.
UPDATE: As one organizer has just pointed out, students who wear lip jewelry could be in for a painful breaking the silence.
>For the second installment of our Day of Silence Student Voices, we have a video from Louisa, a 9th grader, and Alex, an 11th grader, from Morgantown, West Virginia. Great job!
If you have something to share as well, please email it to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We're always glad to hear from students across the country about why the Day of Silence is important to them!
>Can a teacher tell me to speak during class? What are my rights when I participate in the Day of Silence?
According to Lambda Legal, “Under the Constitution, public schools must respect students’ right to free speech. The right to speak includes the right not to speak, as well as the right to wear buttons or T-shirts expressing support for a cause…”
However, this right to free speech doesn’t extend to classroom time. “If a teacher tells a student to answer a question during class, the student generally doesn’t have a constitutional right to refuse to answer.” We remind participants that students who talk with their teachers ahead of time are more likely to be able to remain silent during class.
Check out this document for more legal questions about the Day of Silence. If you have more questions about your rights during the Day of Silence, go to www.lambdalegal.org/help for more information. During the Day of Silence, if you feel your rights are being denied, you can call:
212-809-8585 or 866-542-8336.