Today hundreds of thousands of students nationwide will stay silent to bring attention to anti-lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) name-calling, bullying, and harassment in their schools as part of the Day of Silence.
“Today my kids are participating in Day of Silence and our 13-year-old son Julian helped to organize events at his school,” said NCLR Executive Director Kate Kendell. “Seeing my kids and knowing of the thousands of others around the country standing up for inclusion, safety and dignity inspires me to redouble our commitment to never stop working until every kid feels embraced and secure.”
Research shows that anti-LGBT harassment and violence affects all students. According to GLSEN’s 2007 National School Climate Survey nearly nine out of 10 LGBT students report verbal, sexual or physical harassment at school and more than 30 percent report missing at least a day of school in the past month out of fear for their personal safety. The Day of Silence is designed to illustrate the silencing effect bullying and harassment has on LGBT students and those perceived to be LGBT, to let students who experience such bullying know that they are not alone, and to ask schools to take action to address this problem.
The annual event has become the largest single student-led action focused on creating safer schools for all and since it first started in 1996, it has had a positive impact on the lives of innumerable LGBT youth.
The Day of Silence is one element of a coordinated national movement that NCLR is a part of, made up of students, advocates, parents, teachers, administrators, and policy makers working everyday to encourage schools to implement proven solutions to address anti-LGBT harassment and violence. NCLR joins partner organizations to support Gay-Straight Alliances in schools, urge the adoption of anti-harassment and nondiscrimination policies that protect LGBT youth and allies, and provide trainings to school staff to identify and address anti-LGBT name calling and harassment, in addition to creating factually accurate and inclusive curricula to help students understand and respect differences.
“Today we stand with the students who speak volumes with their silence, standing up for their fellow students’ basic right to an education free from hate and harassment,” said NCLR Youth Project Director Jody Marksamer. “Today students across the country are silent. Tomorrow and throughout the rest of the year we will continue to work hand-in-hand to bring us closer to living in a world where all LGBT young people can grow, thrive, and live authentic lives free of violence and discrimination.”
NCLR was the first LGBT legal organization to introduce a Youth Project. Since 1993, NCLR’s Youth Project has worked to ensure that all LGBTQ young people are safe and can live openly with the support they need to reach their full potential. As leading advocates, NCLR urges national leaders to support policies and legislation that improve the quality and accessibility of education in our nation’s schools and create safe schools. NCLR supports the passage of the Student Non-Discrimination Act(H.R. 4530), which would establish a nationwide comprehensive prohibition of discrimination in public schools based on actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. Additionally, NCLR supports the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, with key additions focused on supporting healthy school climates and positive approaches to discipline.