By Dirk Smith, M.Sc, SDL (He/Him)
Every April, GLSEN leads a nationwide student demonstration in which LGBTQ+ and allied students take a “vow of silence” to protest harassment, bullying and discrimination of LGBTQ+ people in school and education. The Day of Silence began in 1996 by two college students at the University of Virginia who wanted to do more than just organize an echo chamber of panel discussions. By the next year, the Day of Silence expanded to include 100 colleges and universities taking part and by 2000 it became an official project of GLSEN.
Today, the Day of Silence includes thousands of participants who register their participation with GLSEN from all 50 states in the USA as well as countries all around the world. Student focused organizations such as the Sports Equality Foundation are also pursuing initiatives around the Day of Silence. By holding a vow of silence for the day, the idea is to spend the day without speaking and ending the day with Breaking the Silence events to share their experiences during the protest. The goal of the Day of Silence is to promote attention and awareness for schools, organizations and communities to stand up against discrimination and promote inclusion of LGBTQ+ students.
Micah Porter SDL, is an educator who is one of the biggest champions for LGBTQ+ students and has been proactive in getting more people involved in the GLSEN Day of Silence. For him, it’s an important part of his professional role as well as his own personal values and experience.
“I think it’s important for me to use my role as a school leader and educator, and as a leader in the LGBTQ sports space, to be a visible and outward facing role model for youth who have experienced harassment and bullying. This is one way for me to stand in solidarity with them on this important day, and every day, as we try to end the silencing of LGBTQ youth.”
The GLSEN website for the Day of Silence includes a swath of resources and ideas for the event and ways to get involved (both in person and virtually) as well as a place for students to share their stories. To learn more, visit https://www.glsen.org/day-of-silence
Photo courtesy of Micah Porter.