Today is the National Day of Silence. In the United States, more than 8,000 schools are taking part in the event to protest homophobia. The National Day of Silence is largely run and organized by LGBT youth and allies to call attention to the silencing effect of anti-LGBT bullying and harassment in schools.
To participate the only requirement is to keep silent. Often students tape their mouths shut and write messages on the tape to inform others that they are quietly protesting.
The National Day of Silence began in 1996 at the University of Virginia in response to a class assignment on non-violent protests with over 150 students participating in the inaugural event. In 1997, organizers took their effort nationally and nearly 100 colleges and universities participated.
Today, the event includes tens of thousands of silent participants highlighting the increasingly dire situation of student bullying.
A poll by National School Climate Survey on homophobia from 2011 shows that over 82% of LGBT students regularly have to deal with homophobic bullying and even violence. 1 out of 10 do not feel safe at school and 9 out of 10 have cited some kind of abuse in their past related to homophobic bullying.
Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), the organization that informs schools on how to participate, said in a statement: “¨”¨
“The issue at hand is the bullying, harassment, name-calling and violence that students see and face in our schools daily. The Day of Silence is an activity created and led by students to educate their peers and bring an end to this harassment. In an effort to stop this harassment students from middle school to college take a vow of silence in an effort to encourage schools and classmates to address the problem of anti-LGBT behavior by illustrating the silencing effect of bullying and harassment on LGBT students and those perceived to be LGBT.”