Silence is golden

Today is the Day of Silence for 2008, a time to highlight the importance of creating school climates that accept and respect lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender students. Many people will maintain silence. The Day of Silence is a project of the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), which is a student-created and -promoted effort to “bring attention to the name-calling, bullying and harassment — in effect, the silencing — experienced by LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) students and their allies.”

This year’s events honor the memory of Lawrence King, the 15-year-old Oxnard (CA, US) student shot and killed at school, allegedly by another student and because of Mr. King’s sexual orientation. Given the violent end to Larry King’s young life, it’s especially important to note the non-violent action that is at the base of the Day of Silence.

Hundreds of thousands of students are expected to participate by taking some form of a vow of silence for the entire day or part of it. Their efforts will be supported by hundreds of community-based “Breaking the Silence” events at the end of the day. Together, concerned students will create a powerful call to action in order to prevent future tragedies.

Students hand out speaking cards during the Day of Silence that read:

“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.”

The first day of silence was was organized by Maria Pulzetti and observed here at the University of Virginia in 1996. After that success Ms. Pulzetti and her colleague Jessie Gilliam made the effort national. The first National Day of Silence was 9 April 1997 and included students from more than 100 schools taking non-violent action to raise awareness of the silence LGBT people encounter everywhere.

I shan’t be able to maintain silence the entire day myself, but I register here my support for the efforts of students, teachers, and administrators in 6000 schools to make their schools safe for everyone. I hope you do, too. And I’ll be listening.

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Filed under Civil rights, Equity, Neighborhood, News, Non-violence, Notes and comments, Politics, Thanks for reading

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