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June 15, 2011
According to research findings in a study released last week by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) youth are more likely than their heterosexual peers to engage in risky behaviors such as substance abuse (e.g., tobacco, alcohol, and drugs), sexual risk behaviors that lead to pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases, and suicidal thoughts and behavior.
Furthermore, the study found that compared to their heterosexual peers, LGB students are disproportionately at risk for victimization by others, such as being threatened or injured with a weapon on school property, findings that corroborate GLSEN’s own research on the general secondary school population in the report From Teasing to Torment: School Climate in America. The release of this report marks the momentous first instance of a federal research report examining the experiences of LGB youth.
The study examined data from the 2001-2009 Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS), a large-scale federal survey of adolescent risk behaviors. The YRBS is managed by the CDC and has been conducted biennially at the state and local levels for over two decades. It serves to examine risk behaviors that undermine the well-being of youth in the U.S. States and localities decide what questions to ask in a YRBS. The CDC study analyzed YRBS data from public school students in grades 9-12 in 13 of the states or localities that asked questions related to sexual identity, i.e., either a question specifically about sexual orientation or a question relating information about same-sex sexual behavior. Above and beyond the risk factors mentioned above, the study also examined a wide range of other health risks in numerous categories, including behaviors that can result in unintended injuries (e.g., not wearing a seat belt), physical activity behavior (e.g., participation in a sports team), and weight control behaviors (e.g., taking diet pills). Research findings from the study show that LGB youth had higher rates of health risk behaviors in a majority of the examined categories.
When taking into account the risk disparities between LGB and non-LGB youth, it is vital to consider the contextual factors that may explain such disparities. Although the CDC report does not examine the possible causes of these disparities, results from GLSEN’s 2009 National School Climate Survey (NSCS), show that the high prevalence of victimization experienced by lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) students is related to students missing school and experiencing increased levels of depression and anxiety.
The CDC report highlights the importance of the school context for improving risk factors for LGB students:
The policies and practices designed to reduce the prevalence of health-risk behaviors are more likely to have an impact if they consider the context in which risk behaviors occur. For sexual minority students, this means addressing the challenges they face at school.
To support this claim, the authors cite GLSEN’s 2009 NSCS report.
The report only further underscores the urgent need for LGBT-inclusive in-school resources and supports and recommends:
Effective state and local public health and school health policies and practices should be developed to help reduce the prevalence of health-risk behaviors and improve health outcomes among sexual minority youths.
The report specifically suggests that GSAs, professional development for school staff and state and local policies addressing sexual minority youth are important interventions for improving the school experiences of this population, thereby providing support for GLSEN’s longtime claims that these interventions, along with implementing a curriculum that includes positive representations of LGBT people, history and events, are key for creating supportive, safe, and affirming school environments where all students can succeed.
Beyond highlighting the dire need to address health disparities among LGB youth and outlining specific interventions, this report also recommends that more research on these issues is needed. Specifically:
…[M]ore state and local surveys designed to monitor health-risk behaviors and selected health outcomes among population-based samples of students in grades 9–12 should include questions on sexual identity and sex of sexual contacts.
Of particular importance, the study does not include information about the experiences of transgender and gender non-conforming students. GLSEN’s NSCS remains one of the few studies to examine the school experiences of LGB students nationally, and is the only national study to examine transgender student experiences. GLSEN Research maintains that all large-scale population-based studies, such as the YRBS, should include questions about youth’s sexual orientation and gender identity. We applaud the CDC for their attention to the health disparities of the LGB population and recommend that sexual orientation and gender identity (inclusive of transgender identities) be included on all future surveys.
April 28, 2011
>Meghann G. participated in the National Day of Silence on Friday, April 15, and throughout the day was teased by her peers who made gay jokes at her. Meghann retreated to the counselors’ office and began to write. Below is an excerpt of what she wrote on that day, cross posted with permission from her blog, Dancing in God’s Wonderland.
How do you tell someone how you feel without speaking and without writing an essay? How do you defend yourself without words?
The meaning of Day of Silence is so much more powerful when experiencing it, hearing about it doesn't compare. The feeling of isolation puts you in a daze, where you forget about the "importance" of every day conversations. The lack of talking even dries out your throat and when you do speak again your voice cracks on the choked out words.
Day of Silence isn't just a protest against bullying or something to bring attention to others, but it's to bring a more intense, tangible, awareness to the participants. I tell people it's not as hard as it sounds, just to get them to do it, but in all reality it is hard and stressful and saddening to an extent; however it is also enlightening and eye-opening and incredibly, absolutely powerful. Anyone who has participated the whole day would know. It's inspirational.
As human beings we all want to fit in one way or another. No one wants to be isolated or alone or abandoned—no one. So Lord, help me be strong as I venture back into this battle field, because this does not end on the Day of Silence. This is reality for so many people.
April 22, 2011
Last Friday, many of you participated in the National Day of Silence. Thanks to all of your amazing work we are able to say that this was the largest Day of Silence in history! Your silence brought awareness to the silencing effects of anti-LGBT bullying and harassment in schools. Congrats!
But don't stop there. Day of Silence is just the beginning! Read below for some things you can do to keep the movement going. And make sure to read to the end where we announce the date for the Day of Silence in 2012.
Register and Be Counted!
It's not too late to register your participation in the Day of Silence! We want to get an accurate understanding or how many people took part. CLICK HERE to let us know that you took a stand against anti-LGBT bullying and harassment!
Tell us your story
We love to hear how you celebrated the Day of Silence. How many people participated? Were your teachers supportive? What did you do to Break the Silence? Let us know! Click here to fill out the feedback form on studentorganizing.org.
Silence in the Classroom
We are sorry to hear that several students faced negative consequences because of their participation in the Day of Silence at school. As a reminder, while students have the right to not speak between classes and before/after school, students DO NOT have the right to remain silent during instructional time. Although it is upsetting if you were punished because you remained silent during class, it is not against the law. Some teachers grant permission for students to uphold their vow of silence in class, but teachers are not required to do so. We always recommend discussing your participation with your teacher before the Day of Silence. Click here to see more about your legal rights during the Day of Silence.
If you still feel your rights were denied during the Day of Silence, please visit our Report It form to let us know. A representative from Lambda Legal may be in contact to assist.
We'll email you with announcements about upcoming Days of Action, and ways that you can keep your organizing going all year long! Join the Gay-Straight Alliances Facebook page for announcements all year long and be sure to read the emails from firstname.lastname@example.org and posts from @DayofSilence on Twitter!
Drum roll, please!
And the date for the next Day of Silence will be...Friday, April 20, 2012! Mark your calendars now and start brainstorming for ideas for next year's event! You can RSVP now at the official Day of Silence 2012 Facebook Event. And don't forget Ally Week (Oct 17-21) to jump start your organizing for the school year!
Thank you again for your participation in the Day of Silence. Don't let your work stop now. Through your continued organizing, we hope you are leading conversations and building action to change the climate of your schools to be a place where all students - regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity or expression - can learn in a safe and supportive environment.
Congratulations on your success!
April 15, 2011
Congratulations to all of you on a hugely successful Day of Silence! Hundreds of thousands of people across the country and around the world participated in the Day to bring awareness to anti-LGBT bullying and harassment.
By now you've likely Broken the Silence, and begun to speak about your participation in the Day, your experiences with anti-LGBT bullying and the importance of making all schools safer for all students, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity or expression. Keep the conversation going! The Day of Silence is the first step towards a deeper dialogue amongst members of your community about how to improve your school's climate for LGBT and all students.
While we know that this year's Day of Silence was the largest ever, we want to be able to show it! Please make sure you registered your participation by clicking on THIS LINK. By registering we can help show others the impact of this action.
We'd love to hear your stories about your participation--the ups , the downs, and everything in between. What did you do to end the silence? Tell us by emailing email@example.com.
If you feel you were denied your right to participate in the Day of Silence or if you faced strong opposition from your school, please CLICK HERE to let us know. A representative from Lambda Legal may be in contact with you to assist.
Stay tuned to the Day of Silence Blog, the Day of Silence Facebook Page and the @DayofSilence on Twitter for ideas on how to take the next step to make your school a more respectful and supportive place for all students.
Thank you all for your hard work, and congratulations on taking a stand!
April 15, 2011
Hey everyone! We're all staff members at GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, and we're supporting the Day of Silence today! Meet the Day of Silence crew!
April 15, 2011
>Find out at 6:00 PM EST on Friday, April 15 as SiriusXM Radio's OutQ will be airing an in-depth hour-long radio special on the National Day of Silence! The special will be hosted by Xorje Olivares from OutQ news and OutQ Executive Producer Amber Hall and will feature interviews from Maria Pulzetti and Jesse Gilliam, founders of Day of Silence, GLSEN staff members and youth advocates and celebrity guests.
Join in the conversation!
You can ask questions or share your Day of Silence stories via phone at 866-305-6887 or via Twitter to @OutQ and @DayofSilence. We'll be live tweeting during the broadcast, so be sure to follow @DayofSilence and @OutQ today!
Don't have SiriusXM? Click here for a FREE trial subscription so you can listen to the Day of Silence broadcast.
April 15, 2011
We receive a lot of emails and comments at firstname.lastname@example.org, but some of the most upsetting are the ones outlining the ways that schools are restricting the rights of youth participating in the Day of Silence. Here are a few comments we've received this morning. It's strong reminder of why the Day of Silence is so important.
By 10 am this morning more than 30 students had already benn called to the office for participating in the Day of Silence. They were told to participate they had to go home with an unexcused absence, but they were an educational distraction to be silent all day.-----
School personnel are telling me that I cannot support it by putting a printed piece of paper on my shirt telling why i am not talking. And an attendance clerk said to me "I am not playing these stupid little games."-----
Administrator sent an e-mail saying to bring all the students participating in the day of silence to the office.-----
We can not discuss in class nor give materials to students. Students who choose to participate must report to a counselor. We have been denied having a GSA even after several groups of students have asked for one. We have a transgender student who needs our support. I'm being asked to take down the poster in the library and not hand out bracelets to my group.
If you're experiencing resistance or opposition from your school, please visit the Report It form and let us know. A representative from Lambda Legal may be in contact to assist.
April 15, 2011
>Every Friday the website TopFollowFriday.com ranks tweet endorsements of your favorite Twitterers. Last year the Day of Silence got FIRST PLACE! Even above Justin Bieber and Lady Gaga! See the screenshot:
Help us again this year! Just send a tweet using these tags - #followfriday @dayofsilence - plus a message, like this:
EXAMPLE: #followfriday @dayofsilence Tweet this to endorse the Day of Silence for Follow Friday! PLZ RT!
Thanks for tweeting, and have a great Day of Silence!
April 14, 2011
>Anthony Crisci is GLSEN's Days of Action Intern. He's been working really hard for the past several months to deliver communications, resources and products to student organizers. He reflects on his experience and shares with us his thoughts about the Day of Silence.
Labeling envelopes, collecting materials, posting information, responding to emails; these are some of the things I do everyday as an intern for the Day of Silence. I have printed out thousands of labels each with a different name, a different address, but not one with a face. While getting ready for the Day of Silence I often try to picture some of the hundreds of thousands of students that will be participating, but despite my efforts they often remain faceless.
These faceless students are exactly what the Day of Silence represents. If schools made addressing anti-LGBT bullying and harassment a priority there certainly would not be a need for this day. The students who will be participating in the Day of Silence are the same students who are forced to walk through school halls each day not only frequently hearing anti-LGBT language and slurs, but in extreme cases becoming victims of anti-LGBT violence. These incidents are not stories that often make the news; they occur so frequently that they are often seen as common place and un-noteworthy.
The Day of Silence is a day when these faceless students make the news. For one day the entire country will stop and acknowledge the existence of anti-LGBT bullying and harassment. This time it will not be because of a tragic murder or suicide, this time we will acknowledge this problem because of the peaceful silent demonstration of students who will not remain faceless any longer. I may not be able to see their faces, but students in thousands of schools across the country will be standing together in silence on April 15, 2011. They may be alone at their school, but they know that the entire country will be watching and listening… to their silence.
April 14, 2011
>Today is the National Day of Silence.
DID YOU KNOW...?
- Nearly 9 out of 10 LGBT students experience harassment in American schools each year.
- 60% of LGBT youth feel unsafe at school because of their sexual orientation.
- Nearly 1 out of 3 LGBT youth missed school in the past month because of safety concerns.
On the National Day of Silence, hundreds of thousands of students at thousands of middle schools, high schools and colleges will take some form of a vow of silence to bring attention to anti-LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) name-calling, bullying and harassment in schools.
So...what are YOU going to do to end the silence?
All statistics were taken from the 2009 National School Climate Survey.