What is the Day of Silence? Why is my silence my story?
Created in 1996, a Day of Silence is a national student-led demonstration where LGBTQ students and allies all around the country—and the world—take a vow of silence to protest the harmful effects of harassment and discrimination of LGBTQ people in schools.
Day of Silence is used to highlight the discriminatory systems, bullying and harassment, and hate crimes that have occurred to the LGBTQ+ community for centuries. In 1997, the impactful day went nationwide. Over 100 colleges and universities began taking the initiative to participate. In 2000, GSLEN National Student Organizer, Chris Tuttle, developed the proposal for the day to become an official project of GLSEN. GLSEN developed its first-ever "student leadership team" as part of the Day of Silence. With this becoming an official project, members and allies take a vow of silence in solidarity to represent the silencing of LGBTQ+ members in the school system.
The event begins in April, and over 10,000 participants have registered their participation with GLSEN each year in the last several years. These participants attend middle schools, high schools, colleges, and universities. They include students from all 50 states in the U.S.A. and students from around the world, including:
New Zealand, Singapore, and Russia.
In 2008, the Day of Silence was held in memory of Lawrence "Larry" King, an eighth-grader from E.O. Green Middle School whom classmate Brandon McInerney shot.
With the uproar of acceptance and equality, there has been overwhelming opposition to the Day of Silence. In 2005, the Alliance Defense Fund, labeled an anti-LGBT hate group, started funding the Day of Truth, a yearly counter-protest.
"Events like this end up encouraging homosexuality in public schools, which creates a hostile climate for students of religion,"
Said Candi Cushman, a Focus for the Family education expert.
"True tolerance means that people with differing—even opposing—viewpoints can openly exchange ideas and respectfully listen to each other,"
According to a card carried by participants in the Day of Truth. It is past time to have an open and honest discussion about homosexuality. You have the option to alter if you so desire. Let us talk about it.
Other socially conservative organizations, such as the American Family Association, Concerned Women for America, Mission America, Traditional Values Coalition, Americans for Truth, and Liberty Counsel, joined forces in 2008 to oppose the Day of Silence by forming a coalition urging parents to keep their children at home on the D.O.S if their children's school was participating.
"We want knowledge, not indoctrination,"
Stated Rev. Ken Hutcherson, a leading supporter of those who skipped school.
In April 2010, some students at Laingsburg High School in Laingsburg, Michigan, wore T-shirts with the words "Straight Pride" on the front and a reference to Leviticus 20:13 on the back in protest of the Day of Silence. That Bible verse refers to homosexual behavior as an abomination and prescribes death as its penalty. The same protest, organized on a Facebook group, took place in St. Johns and Bath school districts.
Exodus International, which preaches "liberation from homosexuality through Jesus Christ," announced on October 6, 2010, that it would not endorse the 2011 annual Day of Truth, as it had done in 2010.
"All of the recent attention to bullying helped us understand that we need to prepare youngsters to live out biblical tolerance and grace while treating their neighbors as they would like to be treated, whether they agree with them or not,"
Said, President Alan Chambers.
The "Day of Truth" event was purchased by Focus on the Family in 2011 and renamed the "Day of Dialogue."
"Now it has a new name while preserving the same aim it has always had since its foundation,"
The Day of Dialogue website had declared in 2012.
Regardless of the opposition, students have remained strong and continued the annual tradition.
This year, 2022, the Day of Silence will be held on April 8.
When participating, think about all of the voices you do not hear. The day is meant to understand how deafening and silencing it is to be part of the LGBTQ+ community. Take action and show your solidarity!
Fusarelli, Bonnie C., and Lucy E. Eaton. "A Day of Silence, a Day of Truth, and a Lawsuit." Journal of Cases in Educational Leadership 14.2 (2011): 35-48.
Wegwert, Joe. "CHAPTER 6: LGBTQ Youth and the Hidden Curriculum of Citizenship Education: A" Day of Silence" in a Suburban High School." Counterpoints 392 (2011): 90-107.