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April 23, 2008
>Tomorrow is Southern Connecticut State University's Annual Day of Silence celebration, and in less than twelve hours, LGBT Prism, my university's Gay/Straight Alliance; the SCSU chapter of Amnesty International, an international human rights organization; and a dozen of other student clubs and allies will be demonstrating on the large bridge that connects East and West Campuses and standing silently for about four hours. There will be some "Speaking People" to help coordinate how people will be spread out on the bridge and around campus; take pictures; talk to students passing by if they have questions about the people staying silent; and talk with the media should they arrive. We also know that many members of the campus community are staying silent in their classes; fortunately, the faculty and administration have been very supportive. We feel very lucky to have gotten so much support from the university. We are expecting even more people at our community vigil/speak-out later tomorrow night, which will be taped and sent to the president of the university. Even though she cannot attend, she has told us that she supports our message 100%!
I have received questions from many of my fellow students and some faculty about what to do if you can't stay silent. For instance, one of my fellow peers, a wondeful ally of the LGBT community, states that she has three or four oral presentations (one in Japanese!) tomorrow and can't stay silent or else she will fail her assignments. Moreover, one supportive faculty member told me she had already planned an important lecture for her class that cannot be held back and is conflicted as to how to observe the Day of Silence.
Fortunately, I was able to give these two people good tips on how to observe the Day of Silence, even if they can't stay silent for all or any part of the day:
1. If you're a student, let people know what the Day of Silence is and what people are doing nation/worldwide to observe or celebrate it. It is always good to let people know what the Day of Silence is and, more importantly, why it's so important even if everyone in your campus community is not observing it. By spreading the word and garnering support from students and school staff this year, you might be able to organize a Day of Silence the following year that will engage more students and gain more administrative support. Word-of-mouth is the strongest form of publicity!
2. If you're a teacher, incorporate the theme or message of the Day of Silence into your lesson plans. The faculty member at SCSU who I talked to stated that she was doing a lecture on oppression in Mexico, so I advised her that she should connect the Day of Silence's anti-oppression message with the issue of prejudice and discrimination in Mexico. Not only will this create a meaningful relationship between the Day of Silence and a course topic, but it also has the potential to mobilize students to learn more about the topic and take action.
I think it's important to remember that just because the Day of Silence requires one to stay silent, that does not mean that it makes one invinsible. Unfortunately, the many types of oppression that exist within society force one to be marginalized to the point of invisibility. However, our shared purpose for this day of action should be to show our communities that silence can often speak louder than words and serve as the mirror for people's own prejudices and societal bigotry.
April 23, 2008
>City of Dallas supports youth-led call for an end to the bullying and harassment. Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert has proclaimed Friday, April 25, 2008 as Day of Silence Day in the city.
OFFICE OF THE MAYOR/CITY OF DALLAS
WHEREAS, the National Day of Silence is a day in which students take a vow of silence to bring attention to the anti-lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender name-calling, bullying, and harassment faced by individuals in schools, including students, teachers, and other school staff;
WHEREAS, the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network has designated one day of every April as the National Day of Silence;
WHEREAS, the 2008 National Day of Silence will be held in memory of Lawrence King, a 14-year-old California student who was shot and killed in school in February by a 14-year-old classmate because of King’s sexual orientation and gender identity/expression;
WHEREAS, more than 500,000 students from more than 5,000 junior and high schools participated in the National Day of Silence in previous years;
WHEREAS, more than 80 percent of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender students have been verbally harassed at school by their peers because of their sexual orientation or gender identity/expression;
WHEREAS, nearly 40 percent of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender students were physically harassed by their peers because of their sexual orientation or gender identity/expression;
WHEREAS, nearly 20 percent of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender students were physically assaulted by their peers at school because of their sexual orientation or gender identity/expression;
WHEREAS, 40 States do not have laws protecting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students from name-calling, bullying, and harassment that occurs at school because of sexual orientation ; and
WHEREAS, every child should be guaranteed an education free from name-calling, bullying, harassment, and discrimination regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity/expression; Now, therefore, be it;
NOW, THEREFORE, I TOM LEPPERT, mayor of the City of Dallas and on behalf of the Dallas City Council do herby proclaim April 25, 2008 as
Day of Silence Day
In Dallas, Texas.
RALLY: The Dallas chapter of GLSEN, in partnership with Youth First Texas, has organized over 20 Dallas and Ft. Worth community organizations to join with the Day of Silence student participants for the first ever Breaking the Silence Rally.
The event, designed to show support for schools that are free from violence and harassment, will be held at 7:00 p.m. on April 25 in Reverchon Park, located near the intersection of Maple and Oak Lawn in Dallas.
April 23, 2008
>The ACLU has some tips for students who plan to participate in the Day of Silence.
1. You DO have a right to participate in Day of Silence and other expressions of your opinion at a public school during non-instructional time: the breaks between classes, before and after the school day, lunchtime, and any other free times during your day. If your principal or a teacher tells you otherwise, you should contact the ACLU national office or GLSEN national headquarters at GLSEN.ORG.
2. You do NOT have a right to remain silent during class time if a teacher asks you to speak. If you want to stay quiet during class on Day of Silence, we recommend that you talk to your teachers ahead of time, tell them what you plan to do, and ask them if it would be okay for you to communicate on that day in writing. Most teachers will probably say yes.
3. Your school is NOT required to "sponsor" Day of Silence. A lot of schools this year are announcing that they aren’t sponsoring Day of Silence due to pressure from national anti-gay groups. But Day of Silence is rarely a school-sponsored activity to begin with — it’s almost always an activity led by students. So don’t be confused — just because your school is saying that the school won’t officially sponsor or participate in Day of Silence doesn’t mean that it’s saying you can’t participate.
4. Students who oppose Day of Silence DO have the right to express their views, too. Like you, they must do so in a civil, peaceful way and they must limit their expression to non-instructional time. They do NOT have a right to skip school on Day of Silence without any consequences, just as you don’t have a right to skip school just because you don’t like what they think or say.
Lambda Legal also provides these tips: click here for PDF.