May 03, 2013

Respect Report: The Power of Youth

Last Friday, President Obama brought the 17th annual Day of Silence to a memorable close, announcing his endorsement of two bills critical to the lives and future prospects of students everywhere: the Safe Schools Improvement Act (SSIA) and the Student Non-Discrimination Act (SNDA). The announcement was an amazing high-water mark for a record-setting day. It also signaled how far the Day of Silence has come, with students' voices and students' demands reverberating right up to the highest office in the land. In addition to President Obama’s important endorsement, this year’s Day of Silence also reached new levels of influence. Hundreds of thousands of K-12 students from over 9,000 unique schools participated in the Day of Silence, which is the highest recorded number of participants yet! Aside from record breaking participation, the Day of Silence was covered by media outlets such as ABCMTV NewsThe Huffington Post, and many others. In addition, numerous organizations and influential individuals tweeted their support for the Day of Silence, and GLSEN greatly appreciates their encouraging words. Though the Day of Silence was a big day in terms of media, numbers, and legislation, nothing resonates louder than the words of the student participants. GLSEN Staff spent the day online in contact with and providing support to students who chose to take the vow of silence for all or part of the day. Their feedback is priceless.

One student tweeted, “My mom told me she was proud of me for standing up for what I believe in. #BestDayofSilenceEver.”  Another student posted on our Facebook page, “Today, so many of the people that I was worried about hating me because I thought they would think less of me stood with me on the Day of Silence. I don't think that I've ever felt this accepted or supported in my life. It just goes to show that there is hope for everyone out there. Whenever times may seem tough, or you are being harassed, just stop and look around. Remember that you are not the only one in the world, and that the people around you are always there for you. Happy Day of Silence, and may the future bring you many good times, freedom, and happiness.” For 16 years now, student leaders have made silence one of the loudest calls to action. We are so proud to support their efforts in achieving safe and affirming schools for all. Their actions were loud enough to inspire the President to offer his support for two bills vital to the progression of the safe schools movement. Thank you to all of the brave students that used their silence to bring awareness to the harmful effects of anti-LGBT bullying and harassment, thanks to the communities and families that heard their message and thank you for helping us make important actions like the Day of Silence possible. P.S. GLSEN’s ability to provide critical programs is dependent on the ongoing help of supporters like you. I’d like to invite you to become a member of GLSEN’s Dean’s List today. Members are monthly donors who provide reliable support for our core programs to combat anti-LGBT bullying, harassment and more. Join today with a tax-deductible gift of $10, $20 or more. Thank you.

Eliza Byard

About Eliza Byard

Dr. Eliza Byard is the Executive Director of GLSEN - the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network.

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