The Day of Silence is the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network’s (GLSEN) annual day of action to protest the bullying and harassment of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) students and their supporters. Students take a day-long vow of silence to symbolically represent the silencing of LGBT students and their supporters. The Day of Silence has been held each year in April since 1996. The 2010 Day of Silence will be held on April 16.
The national focus of the Day of Silence is specific to ending bullying and harassment of students, particularly physical violence and verbal threats.
As with most political actions, there is passionate ongoing debate as to the specific strategies and goals. Organizers encourage Day of Silence participants to use the national template, but do support variation among participating groups. While some organizers focus the mission statement of their Day of Silence to ending institutionalized discrimination, others decide to make their message more encompassing. The Gay-Straight Alliance of Baldwinsville Central School in Baldwinsville, New York and Winston Churchill High School of Potomac, Maryland, for example, have made their mission statements for the Day of Silence “To send the message that hate is not tolerated” which they consider a more personal and less politically focused sentiment. Other groups focus on the day as an opportunity for the participating students to strengthen their own personal awareness of discrimination and increase their solidarity with the LGBT community.
PRISM (People for the Rights of Individuals of Sexual Minorities) will be sponsoring the National Day of Silence at the University of Mary Washington this year.
- PRISM will be selling t-shirts for $1 in the Nest from 11 a.m.-2 until they run out of t-shirts.
PRISM will also be hosting several events on campus on Friday:
- During the course of the day keep an eye out for students throughout campus who will be reading a speech by Dan Choi and the children’s book, “Heather Has Two Mommies,” by Leslea Newman.
- 11:50 a.m. – Silent Vigil on Ball Circle.
- 4 to 6 p.m. – Breaking the Silence BBQ on Ball Circle.
- There will be free food, fun, and games for all.
- 8 p.m. – Open Mic Night in the Underground.
“Silent for Lawrence King: 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 name-calling, bullying and harassment. This year’s DOS is held in memory of Lawrence King, a 15 year-old student who was killed in school because of his sexual orientation and gender expression. 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. What are you going to do to end the silence?”
From the 2008 “speaking cards”