The National Day of Silence® (DOS)
Why is the DOS needed?
Quotations about a past Day of Silence:
"During my silence, people responded in completely
different ways. One person stopped me and thanked me for what I was doing for
all the people who weren't able to. Another person told me that I was a
pitiful excuse for a human being. I decided that the thank you was what was
"When a person says that they never notice a problem with
LGBT people being forced into silence, they are choosing to be blind to it.
This Day is a definite eye-opener."
"I have had gay/lesbian/bi/transgender friends that were harassed, beaten up, persecuted, and treated differently by not only their classmates, but by their teachers as well. I have seen teachers treat these students differently, i have seen them degraded and humiliated in front of classrooms, and numerous other wrongs committed against these students. It is wrong for this to happen, just like it's wrong to treat someone differently because of their race, unless they require some extra help understanding what they are being taught. That's one thing, but this day of silence should be a good thing to bring ALL students together, on common ground, to recognize that we're all basically the same, and that everyone should be treated equally."" 1
The Day of Silence® (DOS) was founded in 1996. At the University of Virginia, lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender persons, transsexuals (LGBTs) and supporters protested the atmosphere of bullying and harassment by simply remaining silent for the day. Since then, the silent protest movement has grown and now includes observances at over 8,000 middle schools, high schools, colleges and universities. The 15th annual DOS will be held on 2010-APR-16.
The "National Day of Silence" is held annually in mid April. It is sponsored by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), in
collaboration with the United States Student Association. 2,3 GLSEN promotes the creation of "safe
schools for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender people and transsexuals."
LGBT individuals and their supporters will not speak for most of
the day. Instead, they will hand out "speaking cards" which say:
"Please understand my reasons for not speaking today. I
am participating in the Day of Silence, a national youth movement
protesting the silence faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender
people and their allies. My deliberate silence echoes that silence, which
is caused by harassment, prejudice, and discrimination. I believe that
ending the silence is the first step toward fighting these injustices.
Think about the voices you are not hearing today. What are you going to do
to end the silence?"
Later in the day, the participants attend "Break
the Silence" events in which they celebrated the events
during the day.
Why is such an observance needed?
Harassment, name-calling, bullying, and physical attacks are extremely common in American schools. According to the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network's (GLSEN) 2007 National School Climate Survey of more than 6,000 LGBT students throughout the US:
- 86.2% of lesbian, gay, transgender persons and transsexuals (LGBT) reported being verbally harassed at school during the previous year because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
- 44.1% reported having been verbally harassed.
- 22.1% reported being physically assaulted.
- 60.8% said that they had felt unsafe at school.
- 32.7% said that they missed a day of school during the previous month because they felt unsafe.4
Member of Congress, Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY) said in 2009:
"It is tragic to have any child suffer and what makes this worse is that it is completely preventable. Bullying and harassment of LGBT students stems from ignorance and can only be repaired with education. By helping other students, teachers, staff and parents understand the plight of LGBT students, we can help these students live a happier childhood and enable them to earn their education free from fear." 4
Resolution introduced in Congress:
On 2009-APR-01, Reps. Eliot Engel (D-NY), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and 36 cosponsors introduced a resolution in the House of Representatives to recognize and support that year's National Day of Silence. It was H.Con.Res. 92 and titled: "Supporting the goals and ideals of the National Day of Silence in bringing attention to anti-lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender name-calling, bullying, and harassment faced by individuals in schools." 5
- Rep. Engel said: "Sadly, violence and discrimination against LGBT youth is all-too-common in American schools. It is a national disgrace that students feel threatened in school simply because of their sexual orientation. As a former public school teacher, I am proud to introduce this resolution. Americans need to know that thousands of children each day go to school deprived of a happy adolescence because of the insensitivity and cruelty shown by some fellow students, teachers, staff and parents."
- Rep. Baldwin said: "Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender students continue to face pervasive harassment and victimization in schools. As students use their silence to demand safe schools, we in Congress must use our voices to support them."4
The bill would have stated that Congress:
- "supports the goals and ideals of the National Day of Silence;"
- "requests that the President issue a proclamation calling on the people of the United States to observe the National Day of Silence with appropriate ceremonies, programs, and activities; and"
- "encourages each State, city, and local education authority to adopt laws and policies to prohibit name-calling, bullying, harassment, and discrimination against students, teachers, and other school staff regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression, so that the Nation's schools are institutions where all individuals are able to focus on learning."
It was referred to the House Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties where it died.
The following information source was used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlink is not necessarily still active today.
- A note by Julie Rodgers of Paola, KS commenting on the Congressional resolution of 2009, at: http://gayrights.change.org/
- "Day of silence project," has a web site at: http://www.dayofsilence.org/
- The United States Student Association has a web site at: http://www.usstudents.org/
- Daryl Presgraves, "Day of Silence Resolution introduced in Congress," GLSEN, 2009-APR-02, at: http://www.glsen.org/
- Text of H. Con. Res. 92, Library of Congress, at: http://thomas.loc.gov/
Copyright © 2002 to 2010 by Ontario Consultants on Religious
Originally written: 2002-APR-7
Latest update: 2010-APR-13
Author: B.A. Robinson