Day of Silence Date in the current year: April 22, 2022

Day of Silence The Day of Silence is an annual awareness campaign coordinated by the GLSEN (formerly known as the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network). It was launched to raise awareness about the bullying and harassment that LGBTQ+ students have to face, often on a daily basis.

The first ever Day of Silence was held at the University of Virginia in 1996. Its organizers were Jessie Gilliam and Maria Pulzetti, who wanted to do something impactful for BGLAD (Bisexual, Gay and Lesbian Awareness Days). The next year, almost 100 colleges and universities across the United States participated in the second Day of Silence.

In 2002, the Day of Silence became an official project of GLSEN. GLSEN, originally named the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network, is an education organization founded by high school teacher Kevin Jennings in 1990. It fights discrimination, bullying and harassment based on sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression, and promotes LGBT cultural inclusion in primary and secondary schools.

Since its inception, the Day of Silence has been held in April. In 2011, the second Friday of April was designated as the official date for the Day of Silence. Over the past few years, however, the event has shifted to the fourth Friday of April.

To observe the Day of Silence, students from middle schools, high schools, colleges, and universities take a day-long vow of silence to spread awareness about the effects of bullying and harassment of LGBTQ+ students. The vow of silence symbolizes the silencing of queer students, who are often not taken seriously when making complaints about bullying.

The Day of Silence originated in the United States, but it has since went international. Every year, tens of thousands of students from more than 60 countries take a vow of silence for the day to highlight the silencing and erasure of LGBTQ+ youth in schools. In the United States alone, over 10,000 students from all 50 states participate in the campaign each year.

The Day of Silence is a student-led event that everyone can participate in. Leaders of Gay—Straight Alliances, educators and individual students can register on the GLSEN website to receive tips to prepare the Day of Silence activities, including Break the Silence. Break the Silence is a rally that concludes the Day of Silence, where participants can break the silence together. It is usually hosted by a local GLSEN Chapter, student group, or community organization.

Throughout its existence, Day of Silence has faced opposition from socially conservative organizations. For example, the Alliance Defense Fund launched a counter-protest named the Day of Truth in 2005, claiming that students who tried to speak against same-sex relationships faced censorship and punishment. Since then, the event has been renamed the Day of Dialogue and is no longer organized nationally.

Other socially conservative organizations encourage parents to let their kids stay home if LGBTQ+ students and allies at their school observe the Day of Silence or let their children wear “Straight Pride” T-shirts to school.

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Category

International Observances

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Day of Silence, awareness campaign, international observances, LGBTQ+ awareness days, GLSEN