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Thousands Participate in Day of Silence

CONTACT: Cathy Renna (cathy@targetcue.com; 917-757-6123)

On 21st Annual GLSEN Day of Silence, Tens of Thousands to Take Action as Dept. of Education Threatens LGBTQ Rights 

(NEW YORK, NY) - April 21, 2017 - For over two decades, GLSEN’s Day of Silence, now in its 21st year, has been a day for tens of thousands of students to take a stand against the anti-LGBTQ bullying, harassment, and name-calling that silences many students. This year, across the country, LGBTQ students are facing a further crisis: the reversal of transgender-inclusive Title IX guidance by the U.S. Department of Education. Today, students will take a stand not only against bullying and harassment, but also against discriminatory policies and practices that deny too many of them the basic freedom to be who they are. 

“At a time of uncertainty and fear, this year’s Day of Silence takes on added importance. Thousands of students in elementary, middle and high schools across the country will take part, acting to end the silence caused by stigma, discrimination, and violence directed at LGBTQ people. Their symbolic silence and the actions they take to end that silence for themselves and others represent a moving and powerful commitment to positive change,” said GLSEN’s Executive Director Dr. Eliza Byard. “In some places, whole school communities come together in solidarity. In others, students may not feel safe enough to make their observance known to others. But everywhere, the message is the same: LGBTQ students simply want to live free from the silence of fear, violence, and discrimination. We cannot allow anyone to turn back the clock on the progress made in the 21 years since the first Day of Silence, and we call on leaders at all levels to affirm their support for the right of LGBTQ students to be themselves.”

“It is unacceptable that 75% of transgender students report feeling unsafe in school, and that 70% report avoiding restrooms out of fear for their safety. With over 8,000 students in K-12 schools participating in the Day of Silence, the need for action is enormous - but so is the power of these youth to take a stand against discrimination.” Concluded Byard: “This year, we’re inviting students and their allies to not only harness their voices in silent protest, but also to act for equal access to school facilities in their states. Day of Silence is more important than ever before, because no one, whether a bullying classmate, a Secretary of Education, or a governor, should be able to silence LGBTQ youth and their right to live as their true selves.”

For this Day of Silence, GLSEN is calling on participating students, as well as allies of all ages, to send a letter to their state’s governor asking them to direct their state’s department of education to issue trans-inclusive policies, More information can be found at glsen.org/protecttransyouth

Also, at 3 p.m. ET, participants in classrooms across the country will join together for three minutes of silence and solidarity, which will coincide with a Facebook live broadcast on GLSEN’s page

Immediately after, GLSEN will invite students to take part in its flagship research study, the biennial National School Climate Survey, which provides vital data regarding the experiences of LGBTQ youth in schools. LGBTQ youth can take part in the survey at glsen.org/survey, and allies can share the survey at glsen.org/sharesurvey. For more information about this year’s survey, contact Cathy Renna above; for the 2015 survey, read the Executive Summary, or download the full report, online at glsen.org/nscs.

Additionally, local GLSEN Chapters across the country are ending the day with rallies, open mics, and other events as a way to “break the silence,” as they recommit to ending anti-LGBTQ bullying and discrimination in their local schools. A list of these events can be found here.

GLSEN's Day of Silence is a student-led national event organized in thousands of schools, bringing awareness to the silencing effects of anti-LGBTQ name-calling, bullying and harassment in schools. Students from middle school to college take a vow of silence in an effort to encourage schools and classmates to address the problem of anti-LGBTQ behavior by illustrating the silencing effect of bullying and harassment on LGBTQ students and those perceived to be LGBTQ. More than 8,000 students organize events in their schools, where participation can range from a handful to hundreds of students taking part. Thousands more don't register their participation, which is one of the most successful aspects of Day of Silence: how students can mold this event to fit their school environment and use as a catalyst for awareness, education and advocacy for LGBTQ-inclusive schools. 

More information is available at glsen.org/dayofsilence.

About GLSEN

GLSEN champions safe and affirming schools for all students. We envision a world in which every child learns to respect and accept all people, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression. Each year, GLSEN programs and resources reach tens of thousands of K-12 schools across the United States, and our network of chapters brings GLSEN’s expertise to their local communities. GLSEN's progress and impact have won support for our work at all levels of education in the United States and sparked an international movement to ensure equality for LGBTQ students and respect for all in schools. For more information on GLSEN’s policy advocacy, student leadership initiatives, public education, research and educator training programs, please visit glsen.org.

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