Day of Silence

Day of Silence

The Day of Silence is the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network's (GLSEN) annual day of action to protest the bullying and harassment of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) students and their supporters. Students take a day-long vow of silence to symbolically represent the silencing of LGBT students and their supporters.

The Day of Silence has been held each year in April since 1996. The 2010 Day of Silence was held on April 16; in 2011 it was on April 15.[1]



The Day of Silence is organized as a grassroots project by the GLSEN. Students are encouraged to obtain permission from their school before organizing the event.

GLSEN states that hundreds of thousands of students at more than 8,000 schools participated in the 2008 Day of Silence.[2]

Event format

A Day of Silence logo

The event takes place at college, high school, and middle school campuses. In some cases there are elementary school participants. On the appointed day, students maintain verbal silence either for the entire day or a portion of the day, such as during the lunch break.

During their period of silence, participating students may hand out printed cards explaining the nature of their protest. This may be supplemented by additional texts or images.

Some school organizers also create or purchase pins or stickers to put on lockers and t-shirts. Others dress in all black, with rainbow ribbons or gags to emphasize the cause and their presence. Also if allowed, special announcements during the day allow the event to be recognized by the school.[citation needed]


The national focus of the Day of Silence is specific to ending bullying and harassment of students, particularly physical violence and verbal threats. Organizers encourage Day of Silence participants to use the national template, but do support variation among participating groups. While some organizers focus the mission statement of their Day of Silence to ending institutionalized discrimination, others decide to make their message more encompassing. The Gay-Straight Alliance of Baldwinsville Central School in Baldwinsville, New York and Winston Churchill High School of Potomac, Maryland, for example, have made their mission statements for the Day of Silence "To send the message that hate is not tolerated" which they consider a more personal and less politically focused sentiment. Other groups focus on the day as an opportunity for the participating students to strengthen their own personal awareness of discrimination and increase their solidarity with the LGBT community.


Created by then-student Maria Pulzetti, the first event was organized by students at the University of Virginia in 1996.[3] Pulzetti explained: "I wanted to do something for BGLAD week that would impact many people at the school and that would be very visible...I knew that if we held panel discussions and events like that, the only people who would come would be the people who already were fairly aware."[4]

In 2000 Gilliam, Chloe Palenchar, and GLSEN 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.

In recent years, the Day of Silence has been reported as "the largest one-day student-led grassroots action on LGBT rights in American history."[2]

In 2008, the Day of Silence was held in memory of Lawrence King, an eighth grader from E.O. Green Middle School who was shot by fellow classmate Brandon McInerney.[5]


In 2005, the Alliance Defense Fund began sponsoring a yearly counter-protest called the Day of Truth.[6] "Events like these actually end up promoting homosexuality in public schools, and that actually creates a hostile climate for students of faith," said Candi Cushman, an education analyst for Focus on the Family.[7] It encourages students to share with classmates their message, that neither side should be silenced. A card carried by participants in the Day of Truth reads, "true tolerance means that people with differing -- even opposing -- viewpoints can freely exchange ideas and respectfully listen to each other. It's time for an honest conversation about homosexuality. There's freedom to change if you want to. Let's talk."[7]

Other organizations, including the American Family Association, Concerned Women for America, Mission America, Traditional Values Coalition, Americans for Truth, and Liberty Counsel, opposed the Day of Silence in 2008 by forming a coalition urging parents to keep their kids home on the DOS if students at their school were observing it.[8] The Rev. Ken Hutcherson, the principal supporter of those who skipped school, said, "We want education, not indoctrination."[9]

In 2009, Judith Reisman decried the Day of Silence as a direct assault "on traditional parental, American values" and directly compared youth involvement in GLSEN with the Hitler Youth,[10] to which GLSEN Executive Director Eliza Byard commented, "We can only hope this is some sort of sick April Fool's joke."[11]

On October 6, 2010, CNN and Ex-Gay Watch reported that Exodus International would not support the 2011 annual Day of Truth as the organization had done in 2010. President Alan Chambers stated, "All the recent attention to bullying helped us realize that we need to equip kids to live out biblical tolerance and grace while treating their neighbors as they'd like to be treated, whether they agree with them or not."[12]

See also


  1. ^ Day of Silence Homepage
  2. ^ a b Day of Silence: Frequently Asked Questions
  3. ^ Riley, John (2008-04-24). "Day of Silence takes on a political tone". Medill Reports. 
  4. ^ Ashenfelter, Morgan (2010-04-14). "Day of Silence Fights School Bullying". The Nation. 
  5. ^ 12th Annual National Day of Silence Honors the Memory of Slain Lawrence King
  6. ^ "Day of Silence". 2008-03-20. Retrieved 2008-04-29. 
  7. ^ a b Swanson, Perry (2008-04-24). "Christians Plan a 'Day of Truth'". The Gazette. Retrieved 2008-04-25. 
  8. ^ Birkey, Andy (2008-04-24). "2008 Day of Silence Honors Slain Gay Student". Minnesota Independent. Retrieved 2008-04-25. 
  9. ^ Thompson, Lynn (2008-04-26). "Mount Si's Gay-Rights Day of Silence is Far From Quiet". The Seattle Times. Retrieved 2008-04-26. 
  10. ^ Judith Reisman (01 April 2009). "GLSEN and the Hitler Youth". WorldNetDaily. Retrieved 29 December 2010. 
  11. ^ "World Net Daily Columnist Compares GLSEN, Day of Silence Participants to Hitler Youth". GLSEN. 01 April 2009. Retrieved 29 December 2010. 
  12. ^ "Christian Group Pull Support for Event Challenging Homosexuality". CNN. 

External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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