In 1996, students at the University of Virginia organized the first Day of Silence in response to a class assignment on non-violent protests with over 150 students participating. In 1997, organizers took their effort national and nearly 100 colleges and universities participated. In 2001, GLSEN became the official organizational sponsor for the event.
The Day of Silence has reached students in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, as well as those as far away as New Zealand, Singapore and Russia. More than 10,000 students register their Day of Silence participation with GLSEN every year.
The GLSEN 2013 National School Climate Survey found that nearly nine out of ten LGBT students report verbal, sexual, or physical harassment at school and more than 30% report missing at least a day of school in the past month out of fear for their personal safety.
Do I have a right to participate in the GLSEN Day of Silence? you do have a right to participate in day of silence and other expressions of your opinion at a public school during non-instructional time: the breaks between classes, before and after the school day, lunchtime, and any other free times during your day. You do not have a right to remain silent during class time if a teacher asks you to speak. We recommend that you talk to your teachers ahead of time, tell them what you plan to do, and ask them if it would be okay for you to communicate on that day in writing. See Lambda Legal’s outline of your rights as a student for more information.
How do the Day of Silence activities affect the school day? GLSEN advises students interested in participating to discuss their intentions with their administration and teachers long before the event. The day is most successful when schools and students work together to show their commitment to ensuring safe schools for all students. Many schools allow student participation throughout the day. Some schools ask students to speak as they normally would during class and remain silent during breaks and at lunch. Other students take a vow of silence on social media.
For more info, visit Glsen.org/day-of-silence.