GLSEN Baltimoreis distributing materials to local GSAs that are participating in Day of Silence. There will also be a DOS march around the Washington Monument in downtown Baltimore followed by a picnic and story sharing as part of an official 'Breaking the Silence.' The focus of the story share will be on Kay Halle, former Co-chair who recently passed.
GLSEN Greater Cincinnati will hold their Prom April12th. This year’s theme is “Night of Noise.” GLSEN Greater Cincinnati Prom includes dancing, DJ, snacks and soda for LGBTQPIA youth and their allies in a safe, supportive space. Saturday, April 12, 2014, 7:00 pm – Midnight. Amberley Ballroom, Mayerson JCC, 8485 Ridge Rd, Cincinnati, OH 45236
GLSEN Greater Kansas City we will be having Breaking the Silence/Night of Noise activities for the first time at the Like Me Lighthouse on April 11. The Rally will be at Mill Creek Park in front of the JC Nichols Fountain. The rally will start about 4:00 and continue to the Breaking the Silence Pizza party.
GLSEN Hudson Valley will be hosting a Breaking the Silence Dance in collaboration with the Kingston High School GSA and the Hudson Valley LGBTQ Community Center on April 11th from 7-10pm. This will be the 4th year we have held the dance. We have on average 30-40 youth participating.
GLSEN Middle Tennessee's Jump-Start Student Leadership Team, in collaboration with community partners, will host a Day of Silence kick off at OutCentral (1709 Church Street, Nashville, TN) on Sunday, April 6th. We invite student leaders from LGBTQ-inclusive youth-led organizations to attend at no cost! The morning event will feature tools that GSAs and individuals can use to commemorate Day of Silence in their own schools. After lunch, students will facilitate a panel of "out" individuals and activists from different walks of life.
GLSEN New York City launched their Day of Silence Fund for GSAs. The fund was open to GSAs seeking financial assistance in support of their Day of Silence organizing. Students or faculty/staff from any school in the 5 boroughs were invited to apply for up to $100 to use towards their efforts. Awarded schools include a new school that supports students who are over age and under credited: Professional Pathways High School. In addition, Mount Olive High School, Midwood High School, Susan E. Wagner High School, East Side Middle School - M114, Abraham Lincoln High School, Plainedge High School and East Brooklyn Community High School all received grants.
GLSEN New York Capital Region has organized the annual Breaking the Silence Rally at the EGG since April of 2002. This event, free of charge to participants, gives our LGBT youth and their allies an opportunity to come together and break their vow of silence as a group. Once the silence is broken, an open mic program encourages everyone to come up on stage and share their experiences. The event takes place Friday, April 11at 4:00pm - 10:00pm at the Empire State Plaza Concourse in Albany.
GLSEN Northern Virginia will hold a Breaking the Silence event at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Arlington. They expect 80-100 students and it is a dinner, open mic, and dance!
GLSEN Phoenix is participating in the Phoenix Pride Parade on Saturday April 5 from 9:30am-12. They are inviting people to march with them to show our strength in the cause for safe schools for all students and will be promoting DOS at the event by encouraging them to “take a vow.” Bottled water and buttons provided. GLSEN shirts for sale. They have an official registration for marching with them in the parade
GLSEN Pittsburgh held a series of workshops on March 20th (Westmoreland County) and March 21st (Allegheny County) to help students brainstorm activities in support of Day of Silence. The last workshop made it to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
GLSEN Richmond: So far, seven high schools in Virginia are participating in the 2014 Day of Silence program. They are Appomatox Regional Governor’s School, The Collegiate School, Freeman HS, Louisa HS, Matoaca HS, Powhatan HS, and York High School. GLSEN Richmond is supporting High Schools by providing GLSEN swag for their school organizing.
GLSEN San Diego is awarding 19 of their local GSAs a $75 gift certificate for the GLSEN store so that they can put it towards purchasing DOS materials.
GLSEN Southern Nevada is hosting a Day of Silence Breaking the Silence Rally at the The Gay and Lesbian Community Center of Southern Nevada located at 401 S. Maryland Pkwy Las Vegas, NV 89101
GLSEN Tucson will be tabling during opening night of a local high schools performance of The Leramie Project. Appropriately enough, the first performance is on Day of Silence! The chapter plans on having some GSA students there to talk about DOS and will provide resources for interested community members.
GLSEN Washington State is planning a Breaking the Silence Beach Party! The event is a chance for LGBT youth to celebrate their accomplishments, mingle and share stories. It will take place at Alki Beach Shelter - across from Pegasus Pizza.
Maine may be the first state to achieve marriage equality by popular vote, but that is only part of the story. Southern and coastal Maine tends to be more progressive than inland, northern and eastern parts of the state. The statewide marriage equality vote was heavily carried by those more progressive areas, where the state population is concentrated. In other areas the vote was definitely negative, in keeping with the generally conservative and religious populations there. The work that the Downeast Maine chapter of GLSEN does is mostly in that part of the state.
We learned a few years ago that students in a high school in a very rural conservative area were attempting to start a GSA, and were experiencing strong reluctance from the administration. Although other clubs could be started with only the blessing of the administrators, the GSA for some reason required the Board's approval, and it was hard to get the matter on their agenda. Months became two years, but the ninth-grade boy who initiated the idea was persistent.
Over the next year, a newly-formed PFLAG chapter in the area, together with the Downeast and Southern Maine GLSEN chapters, and with some lawyerly help from Gay & Lesbian Advocates and Defenders (GLAD), collaborated to support the students. Students also initiated a social media campaign and gathered hundreds of "likes." Together we persuaded the school administrators that they had no legal right to deny the GSA's formation unless they disbanded all school clubs. We were pleased to learn then from the same administrators that they had been in favor of the GSA from the beginning, despite their having given no indication of that.
Now three years later the GSA is thriving. They have had several school-wide events, are well-known, and even carried a large banner in the school's Homecoming Parade last fall. We have been staying in close touch with them, and occasionally attending their meetings.
To date there has been no contagion to other schools in that part of the state, but our GLSEN chapters are working on it!
--Peter Rees is a member of GLSEN's Downeast Maine chapter.
We have a vision for Albuquerque schools where each LGBTQ student feels valued and supported in their community. We want each student to thrive in a culture of affirming language, to see themselves positively reflected in curriculum. We want teachers and administrators to intentionally work to develop a climate of possibility that nurtures the enhancement of sense-of-self. We strive to create an educational climate where no one, students, teachers and administrators alike, should ever feel they leave something of themselves behind when they enter an Albuquerque classroom.
Therefore, the creation of an active, thriving GLSEN Chapter seemed a natural and vital step toward the safety and success of students in the Albuquerque community. Our Chapter goal is transforming the current culture of silence in classrooms into a thriving culture of competence and accountability that creates a safe educational experience for all students. First year steps toward this primary goal are:
- Developing visibility and support in the schools via GLSEN National programs such as No Name Calling Week and Day of Silence
- Cultivating community support and strengthening partnerships via monthly community dialogue forums with the goal that some participants will take on an active role within our GLSEN Chapter
- Outreach to local educators, counselors & administrators by means of a Know Your Rights educational workshop and by the distribution of local LGBTQ Community Resources
We are so excited for our community chapter kick-off event this spring in which we will collaborate with our local PFLAG to offer a day of community centered panels, keynote speakers, & strategic planning break-out sessions titled: Advocacy: How Students, Educators, Families, & Allies Can Advocate for Safe Classrooms. The momentum and energy of this kick-off will make GLSEN Albuquerque a visible and accessible local resource and will inspire our community to engage, take action, and advocate for safe classrooms for LGBTQ students. To get involved or to learn more about GLSEN Albuquerque email Albuquerque@chapters.glsen.org
Society can break people. On the day I realized this, I was in a 6th grade classroom in Manhattan, Ks. It would be my first opportunity in life to look someone in the eyes and try to help them heal. I was a sparkly-eyed bilingual elementary education student teacher with dreams of changing the world in what I considered to be a diverse school. That’s when a 6th grade student, Francisco*, broke my heart.
The other students all filed out to the playground for recess with the lead teacher but as he often did, Francisco stayed behind to chat with me while I graded papers. Most of the time we’d chat a little in Spanish, his first language. He never wanted the other students to hear him speak Spanish, and insisted that everyone else call him Frank. I, however, was allowed to call him by his given name, “because it doesn’t sound ugly when you say it.”
This particular day he looked like he was hiding tears behind his smile.
“Miss, I don’t like being the only Mexican here,” he spoke softly.
I raised my eyes to his with a smile and asked, “Why not?”
“People here, they say bad things about Mexicans.” Tears welled and his long black lashes blinked them away. Francisco had recently moved from New Mexico where he’d lived in a predominantly Mexican- American community to a town in Kansas where he was, indeed, the only Hispanic kid in his grade.
“Francisco, let me tell you something. I want to be sure you hear me, because this is important.”
His eyes held mine so I continued with an earnest look, trying to hold back tears of my own, “Never be ashamed of who God made you to be. He made you special. It’s okay to be different, differences are to be embraced. Wouldn’t it be a boring world if we were all the same?”
“Yeah, but, no one else here speaks Spanish, and people look at us weird when my mom and I are at the store and she speaks to me in Spanish.”
With a smile to hide that my heart was breaking for him, I teased, “I speak Spanish. Am I no one?”
“But you are different, Miss. You like Mexicans.”
Really holding back the tears, I pressed on, “Francisco. You are special. I actually know very few people who can speak two languages, and that makes you MORE special than you apparently even know. Be PROUD that you can do that. Don’t hide it! Speak to your mom in Spanish in public and understand that the people who stare may just be jealous that you are smarter than they are.”
I said this last bit not exactly believing it, but wanting to. It was apparently enough for him though, because he lowered his eyes and said a quiet, “Thank you.”
“Now get on out to recess before you miss the whole thing,” I said cheerily. But as soon as he was out of the room, I lowered my head and cried. I cried for him, I cried for our narrow-minded ignorant society, I cried because I felt righteously angry, filled with a passion for changing the world, but not knowing how.
More than twelve years later, as a mom in her mid-30s, I keep reenacting that same conversation. This time I’m trying to find the words to help heal new friends. This time they are LGBT friends (yes, at least one of each of them!) I found that when speaking to people who our society treats unequally, people who are sometimes stared at and whispered about in public, that my words are continually echoing, “Never be ashamed of who God made you to be! YOU are special. It’s okay to be different, differences are to be embraced!”
However, when speaking these truths, that EVERY child should hear over and over, to people who are MUCH older than twelve and who have BELIEVED for SO long the negative things our society says about them, I see that it’s going to take more than just nice words from a straight, Spanish-speaking white woman to heal their pain. The words of love and acceptance spilling from my lips will only act as a soothing balm for an hour or two at best. The kind of healing they need, really, is going to take our society changing. For the first time since I stopped teaching to have a family of my own, I have found my passion again to change the world, starting with the children in my own community in Wichita, Ks. I will be their ally, their advocate and their mentor if needed. I will show kids how to embrace each other’s differences so that new generations can give hope to the ones who came before them. Will you join me in bringing GLSEN to our schools so that ALL kids can feel safe, respected and loved?
Hello everyone! My name is Ari Himber. I am the new Community Initiatives intern at the GLSEN New York City office. I am entering my sophomore year at Baruch College where I am currently pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in Public Affairs. I intend to devote much of my career to education.
I am motivated to work for GLSEN because I have had a lot of experience with bullying and oppression. I was harassed in the Orthodox Jewish high school I attended for being queer and an atheist, as well as for my political views; many of my close friends were similarly oppressed. I was the first "out" student in my school, and I had issues with both students and faculty on occasion because of it.
However, it was not just my own experience with bullies that motivates me – it is the systematic silencing that LGBTQ people face in the American education system. We learn about Martin Luther King but not Bayard Rustin; we read "A Streetcar Named Desire" but do not discuss that Tennessee Williams was queer. Obviously, this does not apply to every teacher and school – but it is a pervasive, oppressive means of denying LGBTQ people the role models they may look up to. Not every school has a Gay-Straight Alliance, a guidance counselor who is trained to help LGBTQ students and faculty, or an administration that is willing to step in and put a stop to the explicit bullying queer students face daily.
I am working for GLSEN because I believe in its mission: that we must value and respect all people and their contributions, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression. My work in the Community Initiatives department at GLSEN will help advance this mission by helping to map out the organization’s chapter-work calendar so that the organization can more proactively support chapter work nation-wide. I will also be working on the constituent engagement database and reviewing the new GLSEN website for organizational clarity and consistency.
As a new staff member I have had the pleasure of experiencing the grunt work that goes into making Day of Silence possible. Part of this work includes answering hundreds of participant inquiries as to why we use silence on this day of action. We have a standard answer to this question: “taking a vow of silence helps to call attention to the silencing effect of anti-LGBT bullying and harassment in schools.” Standard answers are often not enough to satisfy participant curiosity. Part of the reason why our constituents take part in the Day of Silence is that this day is an empowering moment in what can sometimes feel like an oppressive society. To honor our participants experience I thought that sharing a more personal answer to the inquiry of why we commemorate this day with silence would be appropriate. On a personal level, I believe that silence is a gesture of respect. My silence is an expression of my admiration for every LGBT person who has ever engaged in organizing which has led to the rights I have today. If we think broadly, moments of silence commemorate important events, history and influential individuals. This year’s Day of Silence, we will be joined by youth, allies, school administrators, staff, chapter leaders, donors and supporters who recognize that observing a vow of silence in honor of LGBT events, history and individuals is essential in making strides toward creating safe schools for students and moreover a safe society for all.