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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
Proclamation

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.

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