Event: National Day of Silence
Overview: The National Day of Silence is a day of silent protest to raise awareness of the impact of bullying on LGBTQ students. Day of Silence is important because of the high rates of bullying LGBTQ students experience.
Action: Participate in the Day of Silence
Quick Lesson Steps:
- Questions to Ask: Does anyone know what the Day of Silence is? Why is the day important?
- Show / Do:
a) Give some background: Day of Silence, a national event, originated with Maria Pulzetti in 1996, a University of Virginia student “to demonstrate how discrimination can silence the voices of so many youth.” The Day of Silence is a form of nonviolent protest about bullying in schools where youth who are participating stay silent at school.
b) Show a short video(s) about the Day of Silence
- Reflection: Why do students participate in the Day of Silence? What is the purpose in doing so? What are other things you can do to stand up and reduce harassment and bullying?
Day of Silence, a national event, originated with Maria Pulzetti in 1996, a University of Virginia student, “to demonstrate how discrimination can silence the voices of so many other youths.” Part of the reason Pulzetti chose to remain silent as her protest was because of her interest in nonviolent protesting. The Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network, or GLSEN, then decided to sponsor the event and the project has grown to be on the national level.
The aim of the event is to raise awareness of and protest against the bullying, harassment, discrimination, etc that force LGBTQ students into silence by remaining silent for the entire school day. Students, both LGBTQ and non-LGBTQ participate, and the intentional silence is supposed to highlight the impacts of bullying as well as foster empowerment via collective participation.
GLSEN explains why the Day of Silence is important: “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.” To “break the silence” or end the silencing of LGBTQ students, students can hold different events or activities to either close off the day or urge others to make changes at their school to better support LGBTQ students.
Some people question how silence helps LGBTQ students or they run into difficulties keeping the silence. As a result, some schools or student groups pair Day of Silence with “breaking the silence” actions. Other have suggested doing a Day of Action instead of a Day of Silence which can entail having workshops or assemblies that talk about language use and slurs, the impact of bullying on LGBTQ students, or bring in LGBTQ people to speak about their experiences.