WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today we honor the Day of Silence, a national student-led demonstration to raise awareness for the harmful effects of harassment and discrimination against LGBTQIA+ people in schools. Organized by the Gay Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN), students will take a day-long vow of silence to protest discrimination and engage in activism and advocacy.
The Day of Silence was created in 1996 by a University of Virginia student named Maria Pulzetti, who felt that LGBTQIA+ students’ concerns were falling on deaf ears. She organized the first Day of Silence on her campus during the university’s Pride Week, and the next year GLSEN, one of the largest LGBTQIA+ education networks in the country, took the event national, with more than 100 institutions participating. Hundreds of thousands of students go through the school day without speaking, culminating in rallies and events where they Break the Silence with their own stories and shared experiences.
This year, GLSEN is holding a virtual Break the Silence Instagram Live event with special guests, entertainment and speakers at 7:00 PM ET. Follow @GLSEN to tune into the event, or you can get more information here.
NOW supports the Day of Silence and other efforts to bring attention to the bullying, harassment, discrimination and other forms of victimization students face. These attacks are on the rise, along with the politicization of anti-LGBTQIA+ activity by politicians, state legislatures and extremist groups. More states are imitating Florida’s hateful “Don’t Say Gay” laws, with more students made to feel isolated, alone, and under attack.
I encourage you to visit the GLSEN Day of Silence webpage and also a “zine” created by high school students including poems, artwork and stories written by LGBTQIA+ youth.
NOW is proud to stand with LGBTQIA+ youth and their allies to break the silence and amplify the voices of those who are fighting so bravely for justice, fairness and human rights.
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The National Organization for Women (NOW) is the nation’s leading membership-based advocacy group dedicated to defending women’s rights, advancing equality and combating injustice in all aspects of social, political and economic life. Through educating, mobilizing, and convening a vast network of grassroots activists across the country, NOW advocates for national, state and local policies that promote an anti-racist and intersectional feminist agenda. Since its founding in 1966, NOW has been on the frontlines of nearly every major advancement for women’s rights and continues to champion progressive values today. More about NOW’s efforts and resources is available at NOW.org.