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April 26, 2012

Last Friday, President Obama brought the 17th annual Day of Silence to a memorable close, announcing his endorsement of two bills critical to the lives and future prospects of students everywhere: the Safe Schools Improvement Act (SSIA) and the Student Non-Discrimination Act (SNDA). The announcement was an amazing high-water mark for a record-setting day. It also signaled how far the Day of Silence has come, with students' voices and students' demands reverberating right up to the highest office in the land. In addition to President Obama’s important endorsement, this year’s Day of Silence also reached new levels of influence. Hundreds of thousands of K-12 students from over 9,000 unique schools participated in the Day of Silence, which is the highest recorded number of participants yet! Aside from record breaking participation, the Day of Silence was covered by media outlets such as ABCMTV NewsThe Huffington Post, and many others. In addition, numerous organizations and influential individuals tweeted their support for the Day of Silence, and GLSEN greatly appreciates their encouraging words. Though the Day of Silence was a big day in terms of media, numbers, and legislation, nothing resonates louder than the words of the student participants. GLSEN Staff spent the day online in contact with and providing support to students who chose to take the vow of silence for all or part of the day. Their feedback is priceless.

One student tweeted, “My mom told me she was proud of me for standing up for what I believe in. #BestDayofSilenceEver.”  Another student posted on our Facebook page, “Today, so many of the people that I was worried about hating me because I thought they would think less of me stood with me on the Day of Silence. I don't think that I've ever felt this accepted or supported in my life. It just goes to show that there is hope for everyone out there. Whenever times may seem tough, or you are being harassed, just stop and look around. Remember that you are not the only one in the world, and that the people around you are always there for you. Happy Day of Silence, and may the future bring you many good times, freedom, and happiness.” For 16 years now, student leaders have made silence one of the loudest calls to action. We are so proud to support their efforts in achieving safe and affirming schools for all. Their actions were loud enough to inspire the President to offer his support for two bills vital to the progression of the safe schools movement. Thank you to all of the brave students that used their silence to bring awareness to the harmful effects of anti-LGBT bullying and harassment, thanks to the communities and families that heard their message and thank you for helping us make important actions like the Day of Silence possible. P.S. GLSEN’s ability to provide critical programs is dependent on the ongoing help of supporters like you. I’d like to invite you to become a member of GLSEN’s Dean’s List today. Members are monthly donors who provide reliable support for our core programs to combat anti-LGBT bullying, harassment and more. Join today with a tax-deductible gift of $10, $20 or more. Thank you.

April 25, 2012

This guest post by Emma Petersky looks at the Day of Silence and offers a challenge to organizers and participants alike.

Last week was the Day of Silence. A few words to those who participated: This day is supposed to be difficult. You should struggle. You should be frustrated. This day is about being audacious, defiant and most of all, empathetic. You are an important proponent of change and you matter. Anyone can participate in the Day of Silence, but the only person you can change is yourself. You have the power to be not just a better person, but an amazing human being.

Anyone can participate in the Day of Silence, but the only person you can change is yourself.

I have been organizing the Day of Silence since I was in the 7th grade. I started with a bundle of crumpled flyers underneath my arm, awkwardly written, that were painfully tossed into garbage cans when given out. Over the years, I have accumulated more wisdom and experienced more much more heartbreak in concurrence with this event. One cannot convince a student to stop being homophobic or transphobic overnight. We have been influenced by systems and institutions of oppression that teach us, from a young age, to celebrate that which is heteronormative and gender binary. As an activist, I cannot just scream the same, ineffective message to my peers that they have heard their entire lives; “Don’t be a bully”.

Instead, we must deconstruct our social norms of hate, ignorance and hostility towards queer youth. We must no longer demean, patronize or belittle the complexity of gender or sexual identity. This is not an easy task; it cannot be pre-packaged and sold. It cannot be taught in a classroom or preached from an intercom.

We as individuals must become both the educators and pupils, the sages and warriors, “to be the change that we want to see in the world”.

My generation is fueled by communication; however, pixels on a screen are not enough to make us change. We are influenced the most by our friends and by those we look up to, which often makes organizing the Day of Silence very difficult for those in schools with stringent cliques of oppressive motivation. To be a successful activist, you must boldly approach those who are different from you and reach out to students of all social groups. Diversity is the key to revolution. Not all of us can be brave. But we can hope. Hope cannot be bullied. Hope is a suit of armor that is embedded in our skin. It cannot be washed away by hate. Sometimes, we forget this as young people. So, as Harvey Milk said, “You gotta give them hope”. Our goal should not be to create safe space. It should be to create liberating space. And we shouldn’t have to settle for life to get better after High School. Emma Petersky is a student, activist, and educator living on the Eastside of Seattle, Washington. She is dual-enrolled as a Junior at Interlake Senior High School and as a Freshman Bellevue College. In her High School, she is the co-president of her school's Queer Straight Alliance. Outside of school, she is a facilitator of a queer youth discussion and support group called B-GLAD (Bi, Gay, Lesbian, Adolescent Drop-In). She is also a professional public speaker and peer educator to reteach gender and sexuality through the organizations OUTSpoken Speakers Bureau and Youth Eastside Services. She considers her most important work to be her position on the Board of Directors of the non-profit ThreeWings. In the future, she would like to either a social worker, a K-12 teacher, or a writer.

April 20, 2012

Today marks the 17th annual Day of Silence. We decided to take a look back at this event with such a rich history of student organizing, advocacy, and activism. Take a look at this video retrospective of Day of Silence then and now. [[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"46","attributes":{"class":"media-image","typeof":"foaf:Image","height":"254","width":"500","style":""}}]] Have you participated in Day of Silence in years past? Share some of your memories in the comments below!

April 19, 2012

Goooood morning! The Day of Silence is finally here and we're up bright and early with you to make this year a success! This year, students in every state, the District of Columbia, and nearly 60 countries are participating in events at their school for the Day of Silence! Join us in the action! We invite you to follow our blog – blog.glsen.org – as we post student stories and messages from supporters throughout the day. Don't forget to join the conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #DayOfSilence and following @glsen! If you encounter any resistance to your participation in Day of Silence, go to http://dayofsilence.org/legalhelp/ to report it. If you're unsure about whether or not you'll participate in Day of Silence today, we invite you to participate in whatever way feels right for you: not talking at all, remaining silent for a portion of a day, or using your voice to raise awareness of the bullying & harassment LGBT students face. If you haven't already, please take a moment to register your participation so we can count you in our numbers! Let's make this year the biggest year yet! Together, we’ll keep working until that’s a reality!

April 13, 2012

Loan T is a junior in high school and a GLSEN Student Ambassador. Check out this video he created for Day of Silence. [[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"46","attributes":{"class":"media-image","typeof":"foaf:Image","height":"339","width":"500","style":""}}]] PS Are you participating in Day of Silence this year? Don't forget to register your participation

April 12, 2012

This post is by GLSEN Student Ambassador Amelia I will never forget the day when someone at school ran by me and yelled an anti-gay slur. I was numb, unable to comprehend what was said. My mind flirted with the idea that somehow, it was my fault, that by being proud of who I am, I deserved this. For the rest of the day, I didn't say a single word to anyone. I was too ashamed at how guilty I felt. When I finally told a friend a week later, she was shocked not only by the cruel words I'd heard, but also by how long I'd stayed silent. I told her that somehow, I felt like I’d brought those words on myself. If I had done something differently, that person wouldn't have yelled that anti-gay slur. This story may seem like it’s crafted simply to fit with Day of Silence, but it’s not. It's a true story of the shame one feels after hearing insults thrown at them, and the silence that follows. This experience is why I’m choosing to participate in Day of Silence, not just because I want to make a point that this bullying needs to stop, but also so I can stand with other victims of anti-LGBT name-calling. I hope you will stand with me. If you'd like to help GLSEN support students like Amelia through Day of Silence and other programs, you can make a tax-deductible donation today.

April 10, 2012

Jeremy B is a GLSEN Student Ambassador from North Dakota who participated in our Safe School's Advocacy Summit in Washington, DC just a few weeks ago. He's also helping to organize Day of Silence activities at his high school and made this short video to "tell" you about it. Take a look! [[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"46","attributes":{"class":"media-image","typeof":"foaf:Image","height":"339","width":"500","style":""}}]] PS Are you participating in Day of Silence this year? Make sure to register your participation... we want to connect with all of you fabulous  organizers!

April 09, 2012

This post is written by Thomas N, a GLSEN Student Ambassador It’s that time of year again, that’s right, the Day of Silence is just around the corner. What does this mean exactly? It means it’s time for you to bring some swag to your school; it’s time to get creative and pull out those shirt designs, accessories, glitter- you name it. The opportunities you can take with this event are endless. Being a male cheerleader, I used to face a lot of bullying and harassment throughout my community, in and outside of school. You know the old saying, “Stick and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” That’s a lie. Words can do so much damage to a person. I know from personal experience that the bullying I faced caused me to silence myself because I was scared of what could happen if I showed my true colors.

I see the Day of Silence as not just an event, but also a day of opportunities; a day to create a change in the community by standing side by side and taking a vow of silence.

The Day of Silence has got to be one of my favorite times of the year because of the endless opportunities that come with it. For me, I see it as a holiday and that’s why I try to get everyone at my school involved. A successful event in the past I’m doing again this year is a Day of Silence art expression contest, where students submit original pieces of art that symbolize the silencing effects bullying and harassment have on LGBT student on a daily basis. Another way to engage a large number of students is to ask participants to wear necklaces with Day of Silence signs attached or order Day of Silence wristbands so teachers know who is participating. It’s a fun, easy and clear way to remind students to stay silent! I truly love the Day of Silence and believe every school should host the event. If you haven’t done so yet, be sure to register your participation at the DayofSilence.org and get some tips on how to get it organized at your school! Thomas, N. Renton, WA GLSEN Student Ambassador

April 06, 2012

As a new staff member I have had the pleasure of experiencing the grunt work that goes into making Day of Silence possible. Part of this work includes answering hundreds of participant inquiries as to why we use silence on this day of action. We have a standard answer to this question: “taking a vow of silence helps to call attention to the silencing effect of anti-LGBT bullying and harassment in schools.” Standard answers are often not enough to satisfy participant curiosity. Part of the reason why our constituents take part in the Day of Silence is that this day is an empowering moment in what can sometimes feel like an oppressive society. To honor our participants experience I thought that sharing a more personal answer to the inquiry of why we commemorate this day with silence would be appropriate. On a personal level, I believe that silence is a gesture of respect.  My silence is an expression of my admiration for every LGBT person who has ever engaged in organizing which has led to the rights I have today. If we think broadly, moments of silence commemorate important events, history and influential individuals. This year’s Day of Silence, we will be joined by youth, allies, school administrators, staff, chapter leaders, donors and supporters who recognize that observing a vow of silence in honor of LGBT events, history and individuals is essential in making strides toward creating safe schools for students and moreover a safe society for all.

April 05, 2012

Students from across the country and the world will be joining forces on April 20, 2012 for the 26th annual Day of Silence. What started as an activity by a few dedicated college students in 1996, this day has become the largest student-led day of action in the nation! Here at the GLSEN national office we are constantly encouraged by the dialogue of countless students on Facebook and Twitter. We know though, each year it’s not enough to simply tweet the silence. We need to show our solidarity in person, in our communities, with other student organizers on the Day of Silence. Together as one, we can make change happen & create safe schools for all students. Therefore, if you haven’t done so already, please take 2 minutes right now to register on our Day of Silence site!

The Day of Silence is almost here! Let’s make this one the biggest one yet!

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