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Day of Silence

Two students making "sh" signals with fingers up to their faces against black background, flanking GLSEN's Day of Silence logo

Photo of three students with their fingers pressed to their lips with the text "How will you break the silence?" above them.

GLSEN’s Day of Silence, this year on Friday, April 27, is a student-led national event where folks take a vow of silence to highlight the silencing and erasure of LGBTQ people at school.

To start, K-12 students and educators should register their participation. 


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How to Participate

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Register and Join the Street Team

Register to get the latest updates on Day of Silence resources! All registrants also get free streaming of LGBTQ-inclusive classroom documentaries, perfect for GSAs.

Want prizes and extra swag?

Join the Street Team to help get your community registered — and earn up to 25 Day of Silence T-shirts customized for your GSA/school!

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Plan Your Silence

Use this guide for suggested activities as you gear up to take a vow of silence on April 27. For more tips and stories, read the Day of Silence zine created by GLSEN's 2016-17 National Student Council.

Want to be featured in Times Square and billboards across the country?

One activity is to share a video, artwork, or photo showing what "breaking the silence" means or looks like to you. You can start with this unselfie sign (color and greyscale)! Tag @glsenofficial on Instagram or @GLSEN on Twitter, use #DayofSilence, and we'll DM you by March 1 for permission to feature your work!

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Break the Silence

Before Day of Silence, middle and high school students can use our Breaking the Silence Letter Generator to automatically receive a customized letter to share with a school administrator and ask for LGBTQ-inclusive supports at your school. Use the letter to create dialogue with your administration, encouraging them to break the silence with you!

On Day of Silence, after taking a vow of silence, break the silence with a rally or assembly to build momentum and show your commitment to making your school more LGBTQ-inclusive.

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Register

Register to get the latest updates on Day of Silence resources! All registrants also get free streaming of LGBTQ-inclusive classroom documentaries.

Do your students want prizes and extra swag?

Encourage middle and high school students to join the Street Team to help get their community registered — and earn up to 25 customized Day of Silence T-shirts!

Magenta icon depicting mouth with fingers making "sh" signal

Plan Your Silence

Use our educator guide for suggested activities for your participation on April 27. 

Want to be featured in Times Square and billboards across the country?

You and your students can share a video, artwork, or photo showing what "breaking the silence" means or looks like to you. You can start with this unselfie sign (color and greyscale)! Tag @glsenofficial on Instagram or @GLSEN on Twitter, use #DayofSilence, and we'll DM you by March 1 for permission to feature your work!

Magenta icon depicting a loud noise bubble

Break the Silence

Before Day of Silence, middle and high school educators can use our Breaking the Silence Letter Generator to automatically receive a customized letter to share with a school administrator and ask for LGBTQ-inclusive supports at your school. Use the letter to create dialogue with your administration, encouraging them to break the silence with you! 

On Day of Silence, support your students in breaking the silence with a rally or assembly to build momentum and show your commitment to making your school more LGBTQ-inclusive.

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Spread the Word

Share on Facebook and Twitter about GLSEN's Day of Silence, encouraging students and educators to register.

You can also email students and educators in your network to get them involved!

 

Magenta icon depicting mouth with fingers making "sh" signal

Support Silence

Support students and educators in their planned activities on April 27. Take a vow of silence yourself if you can!

Whether or not you can take a vow of silence, consider making a gift to GLSEN to help us continue our work creating LGBTQ-inclusive schools.

Magenta icon depicting a loud noise bubble

Break the Silence

Before Day of Silence, advocates can use our Breaking the Silence Letter Generator to automatically receive a customized letter to share with an administrator at a local middle or high school and ask for LGBTQ-inclusive supports. Use the letter to create dialogue with the administration, encouraging them to break the silence with you!

On Day of Silence, break the silence by attending a rally or assembly in your area to build momentum and show your commitment to making LGBTQ-inclusive schools.

 

Shop Day of Silence

Looking to order in bulk? Order 25 or more custom Day of Silence T-shirts at a discount! Or, order individual items below.
Posters and stickers are also available for free download.

 

FAQ

Why should I register?

All registrants receive free streaming of LGBTQ-inclusive classroom documentaries. Registrants are also the first to know about new resources and updates from GLSEN.

Your registration helps us learn how many people, and which parts of the country, the Day of Silence reaches each year. Many critics wish to downplay the number of people who support LGBTQ visibility and affirmation in schools. By registering, you are helping us prove that this is an important issue to which thousands and thousands of people are committed. 

Who started GLSEN’s Day of Silence?

In 1996, students at the University of Virginia organized the first Day of Silence in response to a class assignment on non-violent protests with over 150 students participating. In 1997, organizers took their effort national and nearly 100 colleges and universities participated. In 2001, GLSEN became the official organizational sponsor for the event.

Has GLSEN’s Day of Silence been successful?

The Day of Silence has reached students in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, as well as those as far away as New Zealand, Singapore, and Russia. More than 10,000 students register their Day of Silence participation with GLSEN every year. And public figures such as Laverne Cox, Jim Parsons, and RuPaul have shown their support throughout the week on social media.

Follow #DayofSilence to see those that post this year!

 

Why do we need a Day of Silence?

Nearly 4 in 5 LGBTQ students don’t see positive LGBTQ representation in their curriculum, nearly 9 in 10 experience verbal harassment, and almost a third miss school for feeling unsafe or uncomfortable. The Day of Silence is a national movement to highlight the silencing and erasure of LGBTQ students in school, which demands that school leaders take action to be more inclusive.

I’m in middle school. Can I organize a Day of Silence at my school?

The GLSEN Day of Silence can logistically be organized in any school, public or private, K-12 and beyond. A part of your planning should be meeting with administration so that they are aware of your participation in the day. Make sure to check out our Quick Guide to Meeting With Your Decision-makers for more guidance. Middle schoolers have been organizing in their schools, hosting events, taking a vow of silence, and breaking the silence each year.

 

Do I have a right to participate in GLSEN's Day of Silence?

In the U.S., 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. You do NOT have a right to remain silent during class time if a teacher asks you to speak.

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. See Lambda Legal's outline of your rights as a student for more information, as well as this letter from the ACLU.

 

 

How do the Day of Silence activities affect the school day?

GLSEN advises students interested in participating to discuss their intentions with their administration and teachers long before the event. The day is most successful when schools and students work together to show their commitment to ensuring safe schools for all students.

Many schools allow student participation throughout the day. Some schools ask students to speak as they normally would during class and remain silent during breaks and at lunch. Other students take a vow of silence on social media.

There is no single way to participate and students are encouraged to take part in the way that is the most positive and uplifting for their school. A big part of the campaign is “breaking the silence.” This may come in the form of assemblies, rallies, events, or using GLSEN's Breaking the Silence Letter Generator. This is an opportunity for students to end the day by asking for people to take action in making their schools inclusive for LGBTQ students.

What other things can I do to create an effective Day of Silence?

Check out our resource: Ways to Participate in the Day of Silence. An important part of GLSEN's Day of Silence is creating educational opportunities before and/or after the event. This is a chance to start conversations about the silence LGBTQ people face in schools. Leading up to the day, there are many resources and activities you can find on this page, including sharing "breaking the silence" photos and videos and sharing the Day of Silence zine.

You can also want to hand out these speaking cards to explain why you are participating in GLSEN's Day of Silence.

Good follow-up can include advertising your GSA if you have one, or starting one if you don’t, following up with administration on action steps, sharing blogs, starting a Local School Climate Survey, or calling for LGBTQ inclusive lesson plans.

Can you send my school a packet of materials for the Day of Silence?

All of our Day of Silence organizing materials are also available on this webpage. All registrants also receive free streaming of LGBTQ-inclusive classroom documentaries and first access to new resources and updates.

Want to take your activism a step further? Join the Street Team to help get your community registered — and compete for 25 Day of Silence T-shirts customized for your GSA/school! 

You can also purchase official Day of Silence merchandise at the GLSEN Shop.

What happens if my school doesn't support the effort?

GLSEN advises all students to secure school permission for the event. We believe that such support is critical for many reasons. We encourage students in those schools where support is unlikely to build campaigns to try and secure that support or to work with their administration on compromises of activities the school will allow. We also encourage students to identify ways to participate outside of the school.

To prepare for your meeting with administration see our Quick Guide to Meeting with Decision-makers. If you believe your school refuses to allow you to participate, see Lambda Legal's outline of your rights. For more information, email students@glsen.org or educators@glsen.org. If you still are not able to participate locally, there are ways that you can join in the conversation nationally. Follow #DayofSilence on Twitter or Instagram!

 

What about after Day of Silence?

GLSEN's Day of Silence is one element of a larger effort to create safe and inclusive schools for all students, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression. To end the Day of Silence, you can host "breaking the silence" events, rallies, legislative lobby days, performances, assemblies and more, both on the Day of Silence and all year round. 

Good follow-up can include advertising your GSA if you have one, or starting one if you don’t, following up with administration on action steps, sharing blogs, starting a Local School Climate Survey, or calling for LGBTQ inclusive lesson plans. You can get connected to an ongoing national effort by registering your GSA to continue to receive resources.

 

What do you have to say about potential opponents to the Day of Silence?

The issue at hand is the daily exclusion and erasure of LGBTQ students in schools. The GLSEN Day of Silence is an activity created and led by students to educate their peers and bring an end to this issue. We look forward to engaging all organizations and individuals who share the GLSEN vision of safe schools for all.

Those who do not support the GLSEN Day of Silence often protest, but rarely contribute positively to finding ways to end anti-LGBTQ harassment. Some individuals and groups may even organize events in response to the Day of Silence, grossly mischaracterizing and/or misunderstanding the basic purpose of the Day of Silence.

However, bringing attention to these events only adds a false credibility to their misinformation about the Day of Silence, GLSEN, and the thousands of students taking action each year. If you face hostile students or organizations in your school on the Day of Silence, remember to remain calm. We encourage you to avoid debates, gestures, or physical altercations. If you continue to be harassed, we encourage you to contact your GSA advisor or other school staff person or ally.

What do I do if I am experiencing pushback from my school for participating?

Email students@glsen.org or educators@glsen.org if you are experiencing pushback at your school. We can also connect you to our partners at the ACLU and Lambda Legal that may be able to provide legal help.

What is GLSEN?

GLSEN is the leading education organization focused on ensuring safe and inclusive schools for all students, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, and/or gender expression.

GLSEN envisions a world in which every child learns to respect and accept all people. Through original research, community-led local Chapters, an ever-growing educator network, and classroom resources, GLSEN works every day to ensure that LGBTQ students are able to learn and grow in a school environment free from bullying and harassment.

 

Legal Help

Endorsers

These organizations are strong supporters of Day of Silence! If your local, state, or national organization is interested in participating, sign up to endorse GLSEN's programs.

Advocates for Youth
American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) LGBT & AIDS Project
American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Eastern Missouri
Athlete Ally
Brooklyn Community Pride Center
Buckeye Region Anti-Violence Organization (BRAVO)
CAMBAs Project Accept LGBTQ Youth (ALY)
CenterLink: The Community of LGBT Centers
Civil Rights Memorial Center
El Paso Safe Schools Texas
Empire State Pride Agenda
Face to Face Health and Counseling Service
Familia es Familia
FIERCE (NYC)
Frameline
Futures Without Violence
Gay Youth Milwaukee
Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) Network
Good As You
GroundSpark
It Gets Better Project
Lambda Legal
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center (NYC)
NAASP
National Association for Education of Young Children
National Center for Lesbian Rights
National Women's Coalition Against Violence & Exploitation (NWCAVE)
National Runaway Switchboard
NOH8 Campaign
Not In Our Town
Outsports.com
OutFront Minnesota
PACER's National Bullying Prevention Center
PFLAG National
Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada (PLAN)
Point Foundation
Rainbow Alley - GLBT Community Center of Colorado
SADD
Safe Schools Action Network
Safe Schools South Florida
STOMP Out Bullying
STOPIt
Straight But Not Narrow
The LGBT Youth Space
Third Level Crisis Center
The Trevor Project
Time Out Youth Center
World Without Hate

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