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Thousands of U.S. students take part in Day of Silence

By |2009-04-23T09:00:00-04:00April 23rd, 2009|News|

NEW YORK – Hundreds of thousands of students participated in the 13th annual National Day of Silence on April 17 by taking some form of a vow of silence to bring attention to anti-LGBT name-calling, bullying and harassment.
Students from more than 6,000 middle schools, high schools and colleges registered as participants for the Day of Silence, a student-created and student-led event sponsored nationally by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network.
Students typically participate by remaining silent throughout the school day, unless asked to participate in class. The event is designed to illustrate the silencing effect of this bullying and harassment on LGBT students and those perceived to be LGBT.

“The Day of Silence is about sharing the stories of teens who endure homophobia,” said Conrad Honicker, a 17-year-old junior from Knoxville, Tenn., who participated in the Day of Silence. “Whether we’re straight or gay, anti-LGBT bullying is hurting us all.'”
Some students held the day in memory of Carl Walker-Hoover, an 11-year-old from Springfield, Mass., who took his life April 6 after enduring constant bullying at school, including anti-LGBT attacks. Carl, who did not identify as gay, would have turned 12 on April 17.
Two of the top three reasons students said their peers were most often bullied at school were actual or perceived sexual orientation and gender expression, according to From Teasing to Torment: School Climate in America, a 2005 report by GLSEN and Harris Interactive. The top reason was physical appearance.
Nearly 9nine out of 10 LGBT youth reported being verbally harassed at school in the past year because of their sexual orientation, nearly half reported being physically harassed and about a quarter reported being physically assaulted, according to GLSEN’s 2007 National School Climate Survey of more than 6,000 LGBT students.
“Hurtful words affect all people directly and indirectly,” said Marcel Salas, a 17-year-old senior and straight ally from Brooklyn, N.Y. “My silence, along with the silence of thousands of middle school, high school and college students will not be that of fear or indifference. Our silence will symbolize the need for safer schools across the nation, and our silence will be deafening.”
Participating students often 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.”

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BTL Staff
Between The Lines has been publishing LGBTQ-related content in Southeast Michigan since the early '90s. This year marks the publication's 27th anniversary.