Day of Silence
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Day of Silence is acknowledged and celebrated each year in the month of April and this year it will be held on April 23rd. This day was created in 1996 to bring recognition to the constant bullying and harassment that many LGBTQ+ youth face. This day originally started out recognizing the harassment that youth face in school and has since expanded to harassment in the workplace, sporting events, and many other aspects of their life. During this day many individuals take part in a day of silence to represent the forced silence that LGBTQ+ youth experience regarding the bullying and harassment that they face. Some just stay silent throughout this day, and others choose to wear tape on their mouths to bring more attention to this movement. Typically, at the end of the day, the silence is broken with an event, rally, or discussion regarding LGBTQ harassment.
History of Day of Silence
Day of Silence has been acknowledged since 1996 when a student at the University of Virginia, named Maria Pulzetti, organized the first event with a group of students. This group of students believed that LGBTQ youth were being consistently silenced and ignored by parents and administrators and oftentimes bullied by other youth. This belief inspired Maria and her group to hold a day of silence to represent this silence that LGBTQ youth experience. Her goal was to promote awareness by filling the community with a silence that they could not ignore. In 1997, the idea of Day of Silence went national and had over 100 Universities participating. By the year 2000, the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), adopted the Day of Silence as one of their official projects. Today, students at all levels participate in this day. There are roughly 10,000 institutions that are registered as participants in Day of Silence. The number of organizations, states, and countries that participate in Day of Silence continues to grow each year as more individuals are becoming aware of the struggles that LGBTQ youth face.
Ways to Acknowledge Day of Silence:
The most common way to show support during this day is to participate in planned silence throughout the day. This planned silence is meant to bring recognition to the many youth who are forced to stay silent about the harassment and bullying that they face. At the end of the silence, there is typically a rally or event that is held for individuals to take part in. Anyone could attend these discussions or events. This year most, if not all, of these events will be held virtually due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The GLSEN will be holding a virtual rally at 6:00 pm on April 23rd that can be found on their Instagram. If there is not an event happening in your community, start one! Prior to April 23rd, you could spread the word about this day so that the public is aware of what is going on and to make more people aware of this day. To get updates about Day of Silence, you can register at https://www.glsen.org/day-of-silence.
Other ways that you can show your support not just on this day but throughout the whole year, would be to educate yourself and those around you about the harassment and bullying that LGBTQ youth regularly face. If you find beneficial information, share that with your friends, family, and your community. Many people are not educated on this topic and it is important to spread the word.
Day of Silence is an important day to bring awareness to the discrimination that many LGBTQ youth face in their daily life. Take a vow of silence on April 23rd to protest the harmful effects of harassment, bullying and discrimination that many LGBTQ youth experience.
Author: Samantha Potocnik– Samantha is an intern at EVOLVE and a student at the University of Wisconsin River Falls.