Students go silent for gay rights

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

Half a million students in the US will stop talking today to protest the bullying and harassment felt by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) students.

The Day of Silence is organised by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), and is being supported by Gay-Straight Alliances (GSAs) and other co-curricular student clubs with an anticipated 500,000 students in 4,000 schools across the country.

It is the tenth year of the campaign, GLSEN founder Kevin Jennings said: “Today hundreds of thousands of students are taking action and responding to the problem of anti-LGBT bullying and harassment, a problem they see in their hallways and classrooms every day.

“I commend each and every young person today as they tell their truths to their classmates and communities.”

GLSEN national student leadership member, Stephanie Diaz, said: “I think that this year’s Day of Silence is going to be huge.

“So many more students know about the day and more students support the cause.”

“I am taking part in GLSEN’s national Day of Silence because I have seen and experienced the impact of anti-LGBT harassment on my friends and me,” said Jessie Liberatore, GLSEN student organiser.

“Today, in coordination with hundreds of thousands of students around the country, I am letting my school community know that anti-LGBT bullying, harassment and violence must end.”

In addition to observances throughout the day on school campuses across the country, dozens of “Breaking the Silence” community rallies and events are planned to take place at the end of the school day and during the week. Students, parents, teachers and community members come together at the day’s end to share their experiences with guest speakers and members of their local communities.

GLSEN also released the findings of its 2005 National School Climate Survey today, documenting the experiences of LGBT youth in America’s schools. The results from this fourth biennial report show that anti-LGBT bullying and harassment continue to be commonplace and indicate that student clubs like Gay-Straight Alliances, supportive teachers and faculty and comprehensive anti-bullying policies directly relate to safer schools.