Photo by Wunmi Onibudo
GLSEN’s Day of Silence is coming up! On that day, participants go silent to bring awareness to LGBTQ bullying and harassment in schools. It’s awesome, but obviously not everyone can participate. Some people want to go silent, but they HAVE to speak (for work, school, or other endeavors). And others can’t participate because they don’t want to get in trouble with unsupportive family or peers. Even if you can’t be silent on the Day of Silence, there are ways you can help support this movement!
1. Respect those who ARE silent on the Day of Silence.
Not speaking for an entire day is a lot harder than it sounds! If you know people who are trying to be silent that day, do your best to help. Tell them you think they’re awesome! Don’t ask them questions or put them in a position where they feel like they need to talk. A little respect goes a long way toward encouraging people to keep at it and not give up. When you tell someone how much you appreciate their silence, they might just make it through the whole day.
2. Stand up for the silent if others challenge or bully them.
There might be people at your school or in your community who don’t understand or respect those who are trying to be silent on Day of Silence. Some might tease them, try to force them to talk, or otherwise hassle them for what they’re doing. If you see any of that going down, step in and say something. Explain what Day of Silence is and how staying quiet is a way to speak for the voiceless LGBTQ students who get bullied. Point out that someone being silent isn’t hurting anybody. Make sure the silent person knows that they’re not alone and that someone supports them. If a bully is being particularly threatening or you don’t feel safe in the situation, get an authority figure (teacher, principal, etc.) for help. Bullying should never be tolerated for any reason.
3. Spread the word about Day of Silence!
Even if you can’t be silent, you can use your voice to spread the word! Start by signing up at glsen.org/dayofsilence to show your support. Tell your classmates, friends, teachers and anyone you can think of about Day of Silence and how to participate. Encourage those who might be a little hesitant to take part in the movement by signing up themselves! Every person who participates in Day of Silence is one more voice for justice for LGBTQ youth in schools. Be the change, in any way you can!
Drew Adams is a member of GLSEN's National Student Council.