On April 16, 2010, thousands of students across the globe participated in The National Day of Silence.
“What is the Day of Silence?” You may ask. Well, the Day of Silence is a day when the lesbian, gay, and bi community, along with their friends and supporters, take up a vow of silence to bring attention to anti-Lesbian/Gay/Bi name-calling, bullying and harassment in their schools. The participating students wore red to symbolize they were taking part in the activity.
The Day Of Silence Program is not to make a spectacle of one’s self. It is to raise awareness of all the slurs and bullying there are against the gay community. Whether you just say “That’s so gay,” or “You’re such a fag,” you are meaning it to be insulting and rude. Being gay isn’t a negative thing.
Many students have been bullied so harshly about their true or alleged sexuality; they have been driven to suicide. One of these students was 11 year old Carl Walker-Hoover of Massachusetts. Carl had endured slurs and taunts about his alleged sexuality, despite his mother’s pleas for the school to address this problem. Carl hanged himself in the afternoon of April 9th, 2009, just 8 days before his 12th birthday and the National Day of Silence.
According to From Teasing to Torment: School Climate in America, two of the top three reasons peers were most often bullied at school were actual or supposed sexual orientation and gender expression. The top reason was physical appearance.
"As was the case with Carl, you do not have to identify as gay to be attacked with anti-LGBT language," Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network (GLSEN) Executive Director Eliza Byard said. "From their earliest years on the school playground, students learn to use anti-LGBT language as the ultimate weapon to degrade their peers. In many cases, schools and teachers either ignore the behavior or don’t know how to intervene."
Unfortunately, Carl’s death was not the first, nor the last to be the result of anti-gay bullying. About a year earlier, eighth-grader Lawrence King was shot and killed by a fellow student in a California classroom, allegedly because he was gay.
Discrimination leads to elimination, as the above examples prove. The Day of Silence is a way you can express your concern for those who are tormented everyday for being someone they are, or aren’t. Next year’s Day of Silence lands on April 15th, 2011.
If you are interested in learning more, visit http://www.dayofsilence.org/index.cfm.