There were a number of activities involved, but one of the most exciting and fascinating of them was the "rush hour rally". I'm not sure if this is what they officially call it, but that is in effect what it was.
A group of about 50 students, chapter leaders, parents, and GSA advisers gathered at a public fountain near a busy intersection. They were decked out in Day of Silence t-shirts and rainbow paraphernalia. They had noisemakers and posters that said "Honk if you support safe schools!", "Support the Day of Silence!", "Equality is a right!" and other catchy slogans. They lined the sidewalk and encouraged rush hour motorists to honk in support of the Day of Silence.
The air was filled with excitement and camaraderie and every time someone unbeknown to the Day of Silence would honk there would be an overwhelming uproar. They did an amazing job of raising awareness about the DOS to the Kansas city community. It was phenomenal.
Here are a few ideas to incorporate for your Breaking the Silence event:
1. Have a silent countdown
2. Have all event attendees write their comments on a huge banner
3. Have some of the DOS participants speak out about their experiences of being silent all day, and about their experiences of anti-LGBT bullying and harassment
4. Invite local performers, singers, musicians, poets, theater troupes, etc.
5. Have food! Have music! Have fun!
Looking back on my first Day of Silence, I realize that it was rough. I can remember the negativity that originated from the student body at my high school. I remember the name calling, the threats, and the hate. I remember it being called a "Gay Day", and a lot of the community getting outraged that the school would allow such a thing.
Most of all though, I remember the support that came from those who cared. The students and teachers who stood by me throughout the day knew that we were standing up for rights that EVERYONE deserved.
Now, a year later, it's amazing to see how far we've come. It leaves me in awe to think about how much our support base has grown. Now I have a established Gay Straight Alliance with a student base of about thirty members... not bad for a school with less than one thousand in total. It gives me great pride to see how far my community has come, all because of a group of people who stood up for what they believed in.
>Here's a school that has not only organized a Day of Silence, but has created an entire week of tolerance education!
Geneva IL The Gay/Straight Alliance Club at Geneva High School will host several optional activities this week to promote a Week of Tolerance...
Friday - Day of Silence, where Gay/Straight Alliance students will remain silent and not send text messages during the school day. Students will have permission not to speak from their teachers. All students will be encouraged to wear their Gay/Straight Alliance at Geneva High School T-shirts.
- Geneva students host Tolerance Week (The Chronicle)
>Although the national Day of Silence will take place this Friday on April 17, due to different school break schedules some students have already had their activities. Here are two stories students posted on MySpace:
"We sold stickers and cards as a fundraiser, and I handed out duct tape to those who wanted to tape their mouths shut and we did get a lot of negative comments. But during the last two periods the club met and there were about 30 people, which was amazing considering our last meeting was only about 15. The day was amazing, and I loved how this day just brought us all together."
Adrianne D. / Connecticut
"My club did DOS Friday April 3rd since we had spring break this week. We didn’t really get a chance to plan much but we made signs and t-shirts. Even though the posters were torn down 10 minutes after being put up almost every time, we kept putting them up and wore SHHH on our shirts.
"I just wanted to say THANK YOU for this event. It has changed the judgment from some of my friends and teachers and it was a total blast. It showed me how to handle my temper with people who don't understand the LGBT community; it showed me how to not respond to their negative responses and actions. THANK YOU!"
Emma I. / Tennessee.
>Get Tweet the Silence buttons, click here.
[updated: 4-14-09 14:21pm]
Let’s get a Twitter movement going for this year’s Day of Silence. It’s a way everyone can get involved even if your school isn’t participating in the day of action. Let’s generate some Twitter buzz to support everyone taking a vow of silence.
From now until Friday the 17th tweet at least once a day about the Day of Silence. And invite your friends to tweet about it too. And tweet them to become a Day of Silence follower.
On Friday the 17th
On the Day of Silence tweet about it as much as possible.
Important: If you are a student in middle or high school, make sure you only tweet during times that your school permits. Tweet in the morning before school starts, at lunch (if allowed), and especially after school.
If you can’t tweet any other time, plan to tweet within one hour after classes end. We hope that will create a rolling, growing Twitter movement from the East to the West coast as schools close for the day. Students in Alaska and Hawaii, join in when you can. And if you live outside the U.S. you can be a part too.
Tweet what you’re doing for DOS. Tweet how many students are participating at your school. Tweet the different ways you’re getting support. Tweet if you’re holding a Breaking the Silence event. Tweet about how many buttons you’re wearing. Tweet about the reactions of your classmates.
Basically, if it has to do with DOS, tweet it in the days leading up to Friday.
Tagging your tweets
Don’t forget to mention DOS (@dayofsilence) by using the “@” or “#” tags. For general Twitter info, click here. (Now you can use the “@dayofsilence” anywhere in your tweet, not just at the beginning.) More about this tag, click here.
We have Tweet the Silence! buttons for your web site. To get one, click here.
The Day of Silence is almost here, so get tweeting.
>If you’ve been following GLSEN's webpage, or the GLSEN or Day of Silence Twitter, you’ve probably heard about Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover. On Monday, April 6 Carl hung himself in his bedroom with an electrical cord. Carl experienced extreme amounts of anti-gay bullying at his school in Springfield, MA. [corrected 4/15] He was only 11 years old.
Tragedies such as this serve as an extreme reminder that schools are not safe. That's why it’s as important as ever for all of us stand against anti-LGBT bullying together.
On April 17 you will make a strong statement against anti-LGBT bullying in schools. By participating in the Day of Silence you will represent all students who have felt silenced by the bullying and harassment they experience in schools every day. Most importantly, you will be taking a step towards making your school and all schools safer. And, as we have been so sadly reminded, that’s exactly what we need right now.
Thank you for all the amazing work you do to make schools safe for all students, and keep the ideas coming on how you can have an amazing and impactful Day of Silence! What are you going to do to end the silence?
>Still more stories being shared over at facebook - and I become more and more inspired by all those who are participating and supporting:
I actually did this last year before and it brought back some bad memories. For the simple fact that I wasn't speaking, people judged me, pushed me around. I didn't have a single defense for myself. My actions could not help when nobody was looking at me. To quote a book title, "I have no mouth and I must scream." It was how I felt that day. Now, I must put myself through it again to feel the pain that people go through every single day. I may be straight, but I love all people, no matter their race, gender, or sexuality. It's so sad that people treat others as if they are nothing. I hope we all can stand up with our arms braced and get through this.
>GLSEN's Executive Director Eliza Byard has spoken with the family of Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover, the 11-year-old boy who took his own life Monday after enduring constant bullying, including daily anti-gay language, at school. Carl did not identify as gay.
Read GLSEN's initial press release about the bullying and suicide here.
Eliza's message to Day of Silence supporters:
I want you to know that I have been in contact with the Walker family regarding the suicide of 11-year-old Carl Walker-Hoover this past Monday. I have extended sincere condolences to the family on behalf of the entire GLSEN network, explained our mission to end bullying and harassment of all students, regardless of sexual orientation and gender expression, and asked for – and received – Carl’s mother’s permission to talk about Carl’s story in the context of the Day of Silence next week. The Day of Silence will fall on what would have been Carl’s 12th birthday. On the most recent call, a family member said, “Even though this event is on Carl’s birthday, we believe it is important that his story be told. Whether or not a student is gay this language should not be used to insult others.” I have expressed to the family GLSEN’s collective resolve to do all in our power to heed his mother’s call to action and ensure that in the future no more students suffer as Carl did.
>A guest post by Amena J. one of our fabulous GLSEN staff members:
This post was supposed to be a report back on GLSEN Southern Maine’s GSA Night. Wednesday the Chapter hosted an interfaith forum featuring Bishop Gene Robinson. As you can imagine the Chapter was thrilled to host an event with such an esteemed guest. I decided to fly to Portland from DC for this event. I too was excited to meet someone who has made an impact on the LGBT and faith communities.
Due to numerous travel debacles involving two planes, a bus and three states I made it to the interfaith forum 20 minutes before it was over. Frustrated and disappointed I sat and listened to the end of talks by other clergy at the forum.
Afterwards a flock of students went to Bishop Robinson for photo ops and more discussion about the speech that I never heard. I did get to meet the Bishop he shook my hand and was genuinely sympathetic to my dilemma. Bishop Robinson ended the evening with a moment of silence and closing remarks.
So what to write? As I drove to my hotel I labored over how to sum up an evening that wasn’t. After a day composed of almost 12 hours of travel and aggravation I was weary. Then it hit me. Maybe this trip was one big metaphor. It may seem cliché but sometimes we need to be reminded of a basic lesson, never give up.
On Wednesday I encountered obstacle after obstacle. It seemed the harder I tried to get to Portland the worse things got. At one point I considered heading back to DC. I’m glad I didn’t do that. Although, I did not get to hear his speech I did reach my goal of meeting Bishop Robinson. What little of the event I participated in was wonderful.
Several of you reading this blog are going to participate in the Day of Silence. Many of you have encountered some mighty struggles along the way. If you are an activist or organizer you know how hard it can be to keep going day after day. The world throws many obstacles in you path and yet you press on. Although your journey may be long and you may get weary, know that you will reach your goal.
Wishing you a wonderful Day of Silence,
>Lots of great ideas and stories being shared over on the Day of Silence facebook page (link to the right). My recent favorites are the strategies that some students have come up with to have a visual show of support for the Day of Silence, to include those who, for whatever reasons, who will be silent during breaks between classes but need to talk to fulfill class requirements or have other reasons that they cannot remain silent all day or who aren't in school. My favorite so far is the simplest one: wear red to support the DOS.
As a GLSEN staffer, I am not able to pledge complete silence but I will pledge to wear red on the 17th in support of the Day of Silence.
What other suggestions do you have for supporting the silence?