National Day of Silence


Today is the National Day of Silence, which brings attention to LGBT bullying and harassment in schools. Some folks are tweeting, some are pledging their support and just generally getting involved.
Are you participating?
For a history of the Day of Silence, click here.
The anglerfish on the Community blog has more.

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26 Comments

  1. Choice Avenger
    Posted April 17, 2009 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

    i participated at my high school today. it went well, except that there was an optional pep rally at lunch.

  2. jjgirl23
    Posted April 17, 2009 at 5:41 pm | Permalink

    I never understood how this was supposed to help anything. At my high school, there were maybe 20 kids participating, just sitting quietly and not drawing any attention to themselves. What would happen if all of them had got up on the desk and given a little improv-speech to the class about it? Or debated with their friends? Organized an assembly?
    Not speaking up about something you believe is never the way to go.

  3. feminanimal
    Posted April 17, 2009 at 6:41 pm | Permalink

    I’ve always felt the same way. It just seems like the most passive thing you could possibly do.

  4. Anacas
    Posted April 17, 2009 at 7:13 pm | Permalink

    Agreed. I’ve always disliked DoS. Sure, if you get a critical mass of people in an enclosed environment like a high school then sometimes you can get a few people to stop and think. And I do like how inclusive of allies DoS can be. But further silencing the silenced for the day–not generally as effective as giving people space to make their marginalized voices heard.

  5. propaganda
    Posted April 17, 2009 at 7:37 pm | Permalink

    i agree. i feel like the whole problem is that people are silenced by oppression, so creating a day of silence…noise is much more effective.
    of course, there is the perspective that the day of silence draws attention to the fact that oppression silences individuals within your community, and encourages folks to recognize and combat that silence.

  6. julia
    Posted April 17, 2009 at 7:51 pm | Permalink

    I’m glad I’m not the only one that has personal reservations about Day of Silence.
    I’m a proud ally, and I completely understand the motives behind it. I’m excited that so many care about the oppression/stereotyping/silencing that is aimed at members of the LGBTQ community.
    But silence really isn’t my shindig. It seems a little passive to me, as well. Fighting oppression with silence seems counter-intuitive.
    I do think, however (and this may be unrelated), that I really need to work on my listening skills. But that isn’t the point of DoS, because the community we’re supposed to be listening to is not speaking.
    If that makes sense.
    I’d like to hear what participants have to say about DoS, because I feel like I might not be understanding the point of it.

  7. Toni
    Posted April 17, 2009 at 8:12 pm | Permalink

    I completely forgot about it.

  8. Jennie
    Posted April 17, 2009 at 8:37 pm | Permalink

    I wanted to participate, but I completely forgot and was really sad about it once I remembered.
    I totally understand about the reservations on DoS because of it’s passive nature, but I was going to participate because I felt like my friends would notice and think about it since I am normally loud as all hell. It was also really effective a few years ago when I was in high school because it was a very progressive arts/math/science high school with a large LGBT population and plenty of supporters, so it was impossible not to take notice of DoS. It was great.
    In general, though, I think that DoS could use a bit of work because participating in it as it stands makes it really easy for those opposed to LGBT rights to ignore the problem.

  9. Steph
    Posted April 17, 2009 at 9:34 pm | Permalink

    I participated in DoS today. It was my first time and a really interesting experience. As an ally, I think it’s hard to comprehend what it’s like for someone who identifies as GLBTQ in every day life. Not talking, but also slipping up (for example saying “thank you” to the cashier in the market or “hi” to someone I know as I passed by them) helped me understand a little better the extend to which members of the GLBTQ community are silenced. There are probably many small, subtle things I do on a daily basis that would be unacceptable for GLBTQ people – I cant even give an example, because I dont fully understand. So it was a great learning experience for myself, and I like to think it impacted the people who tried to interact with me and others who chose to be silent today.
    That being said, there were moments throughout the day when I felt too passive and when I though about whether or not my silence was actually accomplishing something. It was a difficult position to be in – there were times I felt that I was being silenced, not just that I chose to be silent.
    I think I would do DoS again, because it awakens awareness in myself that I hope to carry with me every single day I work to fight the oppression faced by women and other silenced groups. I also think it does raise awareness and gets people thinking, which is an important step in the struggle for eqaulity.

  10. Jennie
    Posted April 17, 2009 at 10:03 pm | Permalink

    I agree that DoS is an interesting and eye-opening experience for the LGBTQ supporters participating in it, and I agree that this is very important. However, I think that DoS could maybe be modified to help people that are not participating it to stop, take notice, and think about what DoS represents.

  11. GabrielleM.
    Posted April 17, 2009 at 10:11 pm | Permalink

    I participated at my high school, a couple of people thought it was weird that i “would support gay people” because I’m not a lesbian.

  12. MGTOW4LIFE
    Posted April 18, 2009 at 3:56 am | Permalink

    Ok, so what about straight boys who are bullied in school for not being “jocks” or “cool guys”?
    You know the nerds? What about a day for them?

  13. Snarky Amber
    Posted April 18, 2009 at 6:57 am | Permalink

    I work as coordinator for an LGBT programming office at a Washington state university. We participated yesterday in Day of Silence, and added a few elements to make the event less “passive.” One way was having each participant wear duct tape over his/her/hir mouth that had a message written on it (dictated by the student/staff/faculty member wearing it). We also had a very public display in our quad. All of the participants also wore placards that said why they were being silent for the day. We also had a “Breaking the Silence” event in the afternoon where the participants gathered in a large circle and screamed in unison. We followed up with a concert in the evening that featured queer and allied artists performing works of LGBT composers, playwrights and singers of the past and present.

  14. Kim C.
    Posted April 18, 2009 at 8:53 am | Permalink

    Feel free to start one.

  15. smashthecisarchy.wordpress.com
    Posted April 18, 2009 at 11:41 am | Permalink

    As one of the people under the LGBTQ banner Day of Silence makes me profoundly uncomfortable.
    Our silence, enforced by hatred, dehumanization, and violence, is being *chosen* by people with privilege who make it a learning experience. Our blood, our oppression is co-opted into a learning experience for allies.
    Sorry allies, you will never know how it feels. Your one-day choice to “be like us” is frankly kind of insulting and more than anything else far too passive. I’d much rather have allies that get loud and passionate than allies that make a display of thinly-reasoned solidarity.
    It also serves to center everything on the cis, hetero people. Instead of forcing discourse on to topics that affect LGBTQ people’s lives it’s all about what the allies are doing. Or not doing, such as it is.

  16. EGhead
    Posted April 18, 2009 at 3:43 pm | Permalink

    I can totally understand some of the reservations of the above commenters, but as long as my college’s PRIDE group decides to hold a Day of Silence, I will participate. As a straight ally, it’s not up to me to decide how to protest, something a few of the other commenters should keep in mind. I do see the arguments for and against it, but I will continue to support what my local LGBT community decides to do.

  17. EGhead
    Posted April 18, 2009 at 3:47 pm | Permalink

    And to smashthecisarchy:
    Day of Silence is something that is organized, at least where I am, by the LGBT leaders. They do it as much for themselves as for straight allies (and enemies); one gay friend of mine described it as a positive way for him to reflect on the silencing he used to feel. I’m certain there are LGBT people who feel exactly as you do, and that’s a completely logical and valid viewpoint, but it’s unfair to say that DOS is simply for and by straight people.

  18. Leah
    Posted April 18, 2009 at 6:14 pm | Permalink

    These ideas about DoS are ones I’ve frequently heard, and felt. I am an organizer with GLSEN, the organization that sponsors and promotes Day of Silence, and I am curious to know about ideas that others have about improving it.
    Personally, my reconciliation with Day of Silence is this: Day of Silence is not as much about the awareness of the outside community as it is about the person who sits in silence. As a person who is incredibly vocal about my opinions and beliefs, Day of Silence is a very difficult task for me. But as we sit in our silent solidarity, WE are able to realize how this reflects those who sit in this silence every day. The other 364 days of the year, we are able to use our voices to end that silence. This is not a day of action, but a day of personal awareness and INSPIRATION for further action.

  19. Leah
    Posted April 18, 2009 at 6:16 pm | Permalink

    These ideas about DoS are ones I’ve frequently heard, and felt. I am an organizer with GLSEN, the organization that sponsors and promotes Day of Silence, and I am curious to know about ideas that others have about improving it.
    Personally, my reconciliation with Day of Silence is this: Day of Silence is not as much about the awareness of the outside community as it is about the person who sits in silence. As a person who is incredibly vocal about my opinions and beliefs, Day of Silence is a very difficult task for me. But as we sit in our silent solidarity, WE are able to realize how this reflects those who sit in this silence every day. The other 364 days of the year, we are able to use our voices to end that silence. This is not a day of action, but a day of personal awareness and INSPIRATION for further action.

  20. Leah
    Posted April 18, 2009 at 6:17 pm | Permalink

    These ideas about DoS are ones I’ve frequently heard, and felt. I am an organizer with GLSEN, the organization that sponsors and promotes Day of Silence, and I am curious to know about ideas that others have about improving it.
    Personally, my reconciliation with Day of Silence is this: Day of Silence is not as much about the awareness of the outside community as it is about the person who sits in silence. As a person who is incredibly vocal about my opinions and beliefs, Day of Silence is a very difficult task for me. But as we sit in our silent solidarity, WE are able to realize how this reflects those who sit in this silence every day. The other 364 days of the year, we are able to use our voices to end that silence. This is not a day of action, but a day of personal awareness and INSPIRATION for further action.

  21. Leah
    Posted April 18, 2009 at 6:18 pm | Permalink

    These ideas about DoS are ones I’ve frequently heard, and felt. I am an organizer with GLSEN, the organization that sponsors and promotes Day of Silence, and I am curious to know about ideas that others have about improving it.
    Personally, my reconciliation with Day of Silence is this: Day of Silence is not as much about the awareness of the outside community as it is about the person who sits in silence. As a person who is incredibly vocal about my opinions and beliefs, Day of Silence is a very difficult task for me. But as we sit in our silent solidarity, WE are able to realize how this reflects those who sit in this silence every day. The other 364 days of the year, we are able to use our voices to end that silence. This is not a day of action, but a day of personal awareness and INSPIRATION for further action.

  22. Leah
    Posted April 19, 2009 at 10:25 pm | Permalink

    My apologies on the accidental spamming. My computer wasn’t working properly and the comments weren’t showing up, and then all of a sudden now there are four of them. Whoops!

  23. Erin
    Posted April 24, 2009 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

    I did Day of Silence. Usually I’m very outspoken at school (any everywhere else) about LGBTQ issues, but our GSA sponsered it and most people were cool about it. But I agree with those who say that there should be active, LOUD action about silencing the violence. It just needs to end.

  24. Clairefish
    Posted April 25, 2009 at 11:31 pm | Permalink

    We had to hold ours a little late (the 21st) because we were on spring break on the 17th. Afterwards we held a breaking the silence ceremony where I and a couple other people gave speeches, read poems, etc. (one guy wrote a song for the event) and we discussed how the day had gone as well as gender/sexuality issues over pizza and chips. Cable 8 news and the post-journal both came to the ceremony and interviewed some of the organizers, and we were featured that night on tv as part of a piece about the upcoming gay marriage legislation in NY. It rocked.

  25. Clairefish
    Posted April 26, 2009 at 12:40 am | Permalink

    I understand where you’re coming from on this, but I don’t agree. It is true that the glbt experience is in many ways unique, and day of silence cannot possibly hope to replicate it. However, I don’t think that’s really what it’s about.
    To me, DoS has always been about making people think. A lot of people are homophobic by default, because that is the way they are raised and they are never given a reason to think about it. Many of them think that they don’t know any gay people, and that everyone thinks the way they do. DoS allows them to see how many people feel differently. If even one of them stops for a moment and reconsiders, then the event is a success.
    It is also about giving support to closeted queerfolk. Way back when, when I was a terrified little closet lesbo, seeing people participate in DoS made me feel less isolated and intimidated, and helped give me the courage to come out. I’ve had people come up and thank me, including the janitor in my old school who gave me a spontanious hug when she read my speaking card. It is a visible and powerful show of solidarity, and I personally see nothing passive about it.

  26. Mollie
    Posted May 1, 2009 at 4:31 pm | Permalink

    http://www.illdoctrine.com/bonus/2009/04/morning.html#comment-6a00e0099950a0883301156f6e46c8970c
    Jay Smooth (love him) makes this video with a hat tip to FEMINISTING.

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