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National Day of Silence

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Keeping quiet on National Day of Silence against anti-gay name calling.

Keeping quiet on National Day of Silence against anti-gay name calling.

© James Woodson/Getty Images

What is National Day of Silence?:

According to the Center for Disease Control/Massachusetts Department of Education Youth Risk Behavior Survey, gay teen suicide attempts are four times that of heterosexual youth. Many suicidal teens cite victimization, name-calling, and bullying as a reason for their attempts.

Also, according to the FBI, 16% of all hate crimes in 2004 were motivated by sexual-orientation bias. GLSEN’s 2005 National School Climate Survey found that four out of five LGBT students report verbal, sexual or physical harassment at school and 29% report missing at least a day of school in the past month out of fear for their personal safety.


In 1996, a group of students from the University of Virginia started the Day of Silence as a local call for action towards creating safer schools for all, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression. That next year the Day of Silence went national with nearly 100 colleges and universities participating. Today, more than 1,900 middle schools, high schools, and colleges across the country participate in the day. The National Day of Silence, now a project of GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network), is one of the largest student-led calls for action in the country.

How Can You Help Create a Safer Environment in Our Schools?:

Recognize the Day of Silence by keeping quiet on April 17th. Instead of speaking, GLSEN recommends handing out written notes that say:


"Please understand my reasons for not speaking today. I am participating in the Day of Silence, a national youth movement bringing attention to the silence faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and their allies in schools. My deliberate silence echoes that silence, which is caused by name-calling, bullying and harassment. I believe that ending the silence is the first step toward fighting these injustices. Think about the voices you are not hearing today. What are you going to do to end the silence?"
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