Students from across the country will protest anti-gay bullying by remaining silent during the Friday, April 19, school day as part of the annual National Day of Silence.
The event, organized by the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN) since 2001, is meant to highlight the need for bully-free safe schools for all students, regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation.
According to GLSEN, nearly nine out of 10 LGBT students experience harassment in American schools each year, while 60 percent of LGBT youth report feeling “unsafe” at school because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
Em Elliot, a volunteer with Georgia Safe Schools Coalition, said today that any violence or harassment in schools is unacceptable.
“The day has evolved and it has grown into a much wider awareness campaign,” Elliot said. “There is much more urgency around these issues now than a few years ago.”
A rash of LGBT suicides in recent years has prompted a national call for dealing with bullying in schools. Campaigns, such as Dan Savage’s “It Gets Better Project,” have been created to help curb what many in the LGBT community have called an epidemic.
Elliot does not know the exact number of Georgia schools participating in the National Day of Silence but said that GSSC is working with student-led Gay-Straight Alliances ahead of the day.
Students, however, are not the only ones who can participate in the event, Elliot added.
“The day of silence isn’t just for students. It’s not just for young people. You don’t have to be silent at work, but there is a new campaign this year where people take a picture of themselves saying why they support the day. It’s a great way to show solidarity with the students going through this and for support for safe schools for everyone.”
Download the GLSEN “selfie” template here.
The Georgia Safe Schools Coalition will also host “The Race to the Safe Zone 5k” fundraiser Saturday, April 20, in Avondale Estates. For more information or to register for the event, please visit www.georgiasafeschoolscoalition.org.