On Friday, April 11, GLSEN will participate in the National Day of Silence, a student-led national event that brings attention to anti-LGBT name-calling, bullying and harassment in schools. According to GLSEN research, 4 out of 5 LGBT students experience verbal harassment because of their sexual orientation. GLSEN-Middle Tennessee will host their Day of Silence kick-off event on April 6 at OutCentral.
Day of Silence is a show of solidarity to bring attention to the anti-LGBT bullying and harassment that goes on in schools and those who feel voiceless and powerless to do anything about it," says GLSEN-Middle Tennessee's Jumpstart Coordinator, Justin Sweatman-Weaver. "But the true power of silence can be palpable. While one silenced voice may go unnoticed, the silence of many can't be ignored. Day of Silence is a chance for LGBT students and their allies, both youth and adults, to come together in the spirit of unity and make an inaudible statement that can't be ignored."
"Day of Silence is important to me as a queer student because every year I am able to see the overwhelming support of my classmates when they participate.," said gray Alexander. "Although my school's Gay-Straight Alliance only averages about ten people a meeting, we nevertheless have around fifty students every year participate in DoS. This peer support allows for not just queer students, but also their allies to feel safe at school for at least one day out of the year. DoS also provides an outlet to allow teachers to express their support. Even though teachers do not participate, they use this Day of Silence to express their support in ways such as incorporating LGBT*Q history into their lessons or something as small as reading the card that explains DoS to their classes each period."
The two-part event while designed for students, features an afternoon component open to the general public. "Students will sometimes experience push back from their teachers or administrators, particularly in smaller, rural schools, so by hosting this event we hope to not only give students ideas, tools, and resources to implement a successful Day of Silence in their schools, but also to give them the information they need to understand their rights and the skills to appropriately convey them to their schools' leaders," Weaver explained.
Beginning at 1 p.m., Nashville LGBT community members are asked to stop by OutCentral and join GLSEN-Middle Tennessee for a discussion-based session entitled, "LEAD Proudly, LIVE Loudly." Chris Sanders of TEP, Frank Moore of the Music City Sisters, Ron Balcarras from the LGBT Business Resource Group at Deloitte, and others will discuss how their sexual or gender identity has intersected with other aspects of their lives such as faith, family, and profession, and how they have used their voices to become leaders in their communities.
Cant make it to OutCentral? Join GLSEN in their April 11 National celebration by posting Selfies for Silence with #dayofsilence.