Breaking the Silence: Virtual Event Guide
Every year, after participating in the Day of Silence, a national student led movement protesting the silencing and erasure of LGBTQ people, we get together and BREAK THE SILENCE!
This is a chance for LGBTQ students, educators, and school community members to reclaim their silence and erasure. And this year we are going virtual!
With school closures across the country for an unforeseeable future at this time, we at GLSEN want to ensure that we are meeting the virtual needs of students, educators, and school community members who are committed to advocacy for LGBTQ people. As we stay diligent and mindful in spatial distancing, we can continue to socially connect with each other online and with a powerful message. This guide is for anyone who wishes to participate in the largest LGBTQ student led day of action. Below are ideas you can use with your virtual GSA and online community to continue to raise awareness, insert yourself back into the narrative, and take action in support of LGBTQ people.
Join GLSEN’s National Breaking the Silence Rallies across the Country! Register here for the instructions on our rallies throughout different time zones! We will have special guests throughout the afternoon that you won’t want to miss! Just follow @GLSEN and tune in April 24th at 5:30PM EST where we will Break the Silence together!
Note: Breaking the Silence is created for LGBTQ students to voice what they need to make their schools more safe and affirming. For LGBTQ allies, advocates, and adults, follow the lead and comfort of your LGBTQ students, and support their direction for Breaking the Silence. Note that your school administration may have guidelines or rules on what you are able to do to Break the Silence.
Here are a few ideas for putting on a Breaking the Silence event to conclude your Day of Silence campaign:
Host Your Own Breaking the Silence Rally
Set up a video call via Zoom, Google Hangouts, Skype, etc. Invite your GSA AND other GSAs if you want to have a bigger group. Students can make a schedule of who is speaking, performing, a simultaneous moment to Break the Silence together. Invite a guest speaker to perform or share empowering words or stories to the group. Select a time where you will all Break the Silence together! You can yell, say an empowering word, ring a bell, bang a pot, howl etc. :) get creative!
Host a Viewing Party
You can watch Netflix with your friends virtually. Breaking the Silence by watching an LGBTQ focused movie, show, or youtube influencer. Shows like HairSpray and Love Simon have discussion guides you can use afterwards. hint hint: You can also tune in to the National Break the Silence Rally!
Zine Making Party
Check out the National Student Council’s Zine and share it! You can also create your own Zine as a group while on a video call with each other. Connect with the closest GLSEN Chapter to you and share your Zine! They can share it on their social and if you tag @GLSEN and use the hashtag #DayofSilence and #BreakingTheSilence, you could be featured on GLSEN national’s social media outlets!
Voter Registration Challenge
This year’s theme for Day of Silence is Shaping Our Future. If you are not already you can take a pledge to register and challenge others to commit to voting! 4 in 5 LGBTQ students don’t see positive LGBTQ representation in their curriculum, 8 in 10 experience anti-LGBTQ verbal harassment, and over a third miss school for feeling unsafe or uncomfortable. We can change that by exercising your right to vote and make a difference in your local, state, and federal policies to protect and include LGBTQ students!
Breaking the Silence Online Open Mic
Schedule a few people who will perform, like student musicians, poets, dancers, or other performers online. Assign someone as the MC (master of ceremonies) for the event. They will be the one to keep track of who is performing, introducing the next person on the list, and thanking someone for their performance. Allow folks to share performances about their identities, their Day of Silence experiences, experiences in school, and especially how they’re Breaking the Silence.
There are so many LGBTQ artists in K-12 schools and we would love for you to show your skills off! Share your art on your social page, explain the connection to Day of Silence, tag @GLSEN and hashtag #DayofSilence for a chance to be featured on our page!
- Cooking – Food can be a healing and transformative way to engage in activism too! Share food that connects to your identity, decorate food, and share creative ways to connect food to Breaking the Silence!
- Make-Up – Y’all are incredible with your make-up skills and we would LOVE to feature Day of Silence related make-up designs. Get creative and show them off!
- Drawing, painting, graphic design etc. – This has been the traditional outlet for Day of Silence and Breaking the Silence artist expression and we are here for it! This is an activity you can do together with your virtual GSA! Set up a zoom or google hangout video chat and work on your art projects together as a club online.
- Music – You can sing, play an instrument, create musical sounds etc! Share how this artistic outlet is related to Day of Silence for you.
- Poetry (including spoken word), writing excerpt, quote – Words have power, share and tell your story through creative and expressive writing.
- Dance and Movement Art – body movement in all of its forms is an empowering expressive outlet. This is an opportunity to connect what it means to feel erased or bullied through body movement.
Breaking the Silence Teach-In
Educate your peers or teachers on what is needed to build safer schools for LGBTQ students through an online webinar using zoom or google hangouts.
Explore GLSEN’s GSA activities and use one or more to teach others on how to build a more inclusive school environment for LGBTQ students.
Challenge people to think about systems of oppression and how they impact building a safer environment for LGBTQ students. Be sure to have time for discussion and questions at the end of the activity.
- Pronoun Guide
- Learning Empowerment and Self-Identification
- LGBTQ History Cards
- Inclusive Curriculum Guide
- Gender Triangle Education Guide
Breaking the Silence Administrator Meeting
Deliver a message to decision makers at your school, such as principals, directors, deans, or other administrators, asking them to make school a safer space for LGBTQ students and educators. Use GLSEN’s Breaking the Silence Letter Generator to draft a letter to your school’s administration with concrete actions they can take to make your school safer for LGBTQ students. As an added option, you can turn this letter into a petition and see how many people in the school community you can get to sign it. When you’re ready, schedule a meeting with a school administrator to deliver the letter, either by yourself or with your peers. Check out GLSEN’s Guide to Meeting with Decision Makers for more tips.
Supporting LGBTQ Participants
Create a space for reflection and support for LGBTQ students who don’t feel safe enough to take other types of action.
Secure a private space and create a calm environment where participants can feel comfortable unwinding. Ask a supportive school counselor or social worker to join you. A debrief group is more intimate and allows LGBTQ participants to share experiences they may have had during the Day of Silence that they would not feel comfortable talking about in public.
There are MANY ways to Break the Silence. There is no right or wrong way to build your event as long as you center the needs of LGBTQ students. This work can be the launching point for the work that your school develops year around.