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Thousands Silent on Friday
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New York - APRIL 19, 2013 - Hundreds of thousands of students at thousands of schools are expected to participate in GLSEN's 18th annual Day of Silence on Friday, April 19 by taking a vow of silence to draw attention to the anti-LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) harassment and discrimination in schools.
"The Day of Silence has grown into one of the largest student-led actions in the world because of students' determination to directly address the pervasive issue of anti-LGBT behavior and bias in our schools," said Dr. Eliza Byard, GLSEN's Executive Director. "Generations of students have organized and participated in the Day of Silence to express a collective call for schools to be safe and respectful places of learning. GLSEN is once again proud to stand behind these courageous students and their right to receive an education without the harmful disruptions of anti-LGBT name-calling, bullying and discrimination."
In 2012, students from more than 8,000 middle and high schools in every state, the District of Columbia and 70 countries around the world participated in the Day of Silence.
"I am participating in GLSEN's Day of Silence because it gives LGBT students increased visibility and strength," said Tiffani Sykhammountry, a 18-year-old high school student from Arlington, Virginia. "It shows that all students stand together to make it better for everyone in school."
Students typically participate in the Day of Silence by taking a vow of silence throughout the school day, unless asked to participate in class. The event is designed to illustrate the silencing effect of anti-LGBT harassment and discrimination.
This year, GLSEN is encouraging Day of Silence student participants and their supporters to take part in the "Selfies for Silence" photo campaign. Individuals are asked to snap a photo with a printable Day of Silence sign asking them to share what they are doing to end the silence around anti-LGBT harassment and discrimination.
Additionally, Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY) introduced a resolution in the U.S. House of Representatives commemorating the Day of Silence.
Day of Silence resolutions were also introduced in six state legislatures, including California (Assemblymember Tom Ammiano); Illinois (Representative Kelly Cassidy); Michigan (Representative David Rutledge); New York (Assemblymember Matthew Titone); Ohio (Representative Nickie J. Antonio); and West Virginia (Representative Stephen Skinner).
"The Day of Silence raises important awareness about bullying in schools," said Chase Stein, a 17-year-old high school student from Beverly Hills, Michigan. "All students - including myself - deserve to feel safe in school.
Four out of 5 LGBT students reported being harassed at school in the past year because of their sexual orientation, and more than 31% report missing at least a day of school in the past month out of fear for their personal safety, according to GLSEN's 2011 National School Climate Survey of more than 8,000 LGBT students.
Founded in 1996, the Day of Silence was created by students at the University of Virginia with over 150 students participating in the inaugural event. In 2001, GLSEN became the official organizational sponsor for the event with increasing participation every year.
To bring attention to this problem, many students will hand out speaking cards on the Day of Silence, which read:
"Please understand my reasons for not speaking today. I am participating in the Day of Silence (DOS), a national youth movement bringing attention to the silence faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and their allies. My deliberate silence echoes that silence, which is caused by anti-LGBT bullying, name-calling and harassment.
I believe that ending the silence is the first step toward building awareness and making a commitment to address these injustices. Think about the voices you are not hearing today."
Students have a legal right to organize and/or participate in the Day of Silence. Complete information about students' rights can be found in the resource "National Day of Silence: The Freedom to Speak (Or Not)" authored by Day of Silence legal partner Lambda Legal.
Earlier this year, Amber Hatcher, an openly lesbian 16-year-old student, filed a lawsuitagainst her high school after facing disciplinary action for participating in the 2012 Day of Silence. The student was suspended for the day after wearing a T-shirt to school in support of the day of action.
GLSEN encourage students who experience any resistance to Day of Silence organizing or activities from school staff to submit an incident report at www.dayofsilence.org/legalhelp.
GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network, is the leading national education organization focused on ensuring safe schools for all students. Established in 1990, GLSEN envisions a world in which every child learns to respect and accept all people, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression. GLSEN seeks to develop school climates where difference is valued for the positive contribution it makes to creating a more vibrant and diverse community. For information on GLSEN's research, educational resources, public policy advocacy, student organizing programs and educator training initiatives, visit www.glsen.org.