Day of Silence is held every year on the second Friday of April. It is a student-led observance with the purpose of bringing awareness to the bullying of lesbian, bisexual, gay, and transgender students by taking a vow of complete silence for the whole day in a representation of the silencing of the LGBTQ+ community. The day is sponsored by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN).
History of Day of Silence
The idea for this day originated in 1996 by student Maria Pulzetti of the University of Virginia. Maria wanted a way to impact her colleagues, erase the stigma around LGBTQ+ students and raise the visibility of the community among students and faculty. Her intention was also to give students an opportunity to participate in an activity that was open and inclusive for all, and in doing so, to raise awareness.
By 1997 hundreds of schools and universities around the country were participating in the initiative. In 2000 GLSEN joined the efforts and made the day an official event of the organization. The event continued to expand and now the Day of Silence is observed in all fifty states, and also internationally.
What happens on Day of Silence
Most students that take part spend the whole day in silence, only using written ways of communication. However, when this is not allowed by teachers, some students will organize lectures and seminars to educate people and bring awareness to the issues of harassment that many LGBTQ+ students face. Teachers and school leaders are encouraged to give students the space and opportunity to be able to learn and take part in the school day as normal.
Breaking the silence
At the close of The Day of Silence a rally is organized to formally end the silence. The theme for last year's (2021) rally was 'My Silence, My Story', this year it will be 'My Silence, My Action'. Some students take part in this in person, making as much noise as possible; other students meet in online rallies where they speak and share their experiences virtually.