April 19, 2013: Day of Silence
- Hattiesburg, MS
- Jackson, MS
- (Your city here)
Every April students from across the country and around Mississippi participate in the annual Day of Silence. MSSC offers support, information, and resources to groups who plan to participate.
In 2010, 14 schools in Mississippi participated in Day of Silence. You can help make that number even larger this year by holding an event at your school, campus, or place of work.
What is Day of Silence?
Day of Silence is an annual event coordinated by the Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network (or GLSEN). According to GLSEN, “The Day of Silence is a student-led national event that brings attention to anti-LGBT name-calling, bullying and harassment in schools. Students take a vow of silence in an effort to encourage schools and classmates to address the problem of anti-LGBT behavior by illustrating the silencing effect of bullying and harassment on LGBT students and those perceived to be LGBT.”
Can I participate?
You DO have a right to participate in Day of Silence and other expressions of your opinion at a public school during non-instructional time: the breaks between classes, before and after the school day, lunchtime, and any other free times during your day. You do NOT have a right to remain silent during class time if a teacher asks you to speak. We recommend that you talk to your teachers ahead of time, tell them what you plan to do, and ask them if it would be okay for you to communicate on that day in writing.
How can I participate?
Educate yourself. If you have never participated learn more about the event. You can check out GLSEN’s page for more information. You can also check out GSA Network for more tips.
Keep silent… or don’t. Most frequently students will take a vow of silence throughout the day but in recent years in Mississippi some organizations have designated a “speaker” for their event. Since 2008, USM’s Gay Straight Alliance has had one designated “speaker” available to answer any questions people may have. If you do plan to have a speaker here’s a bit of advice from USM GSA:
“Your speaker should be able to remain calm. Every year we have at least one person come by to try to start an argument or make their own statement about LGBT folks. Our speaker is there to answer any questions people might have, not to defend why we participate.”
(Anna – Hattiesburg)
Make a statement. Many groups use duct tape to draw attention to their silence. GLSEN and a number of other organizations do not promote using duct tape on your face or other areas of your body. Putting the tape on is no problem, but removing it can be. There have been cases where folks during the “breaking the silence” ceremony ripped off the tape and caused some serious skin issues. Mississippi students report sweating off the glue on the tape and having to constantly reapply new tape. How ever you choose to participate be careful and do a bit of research into ways folks have participated.
“I feel it is very important to always do whatever I can to support LGBT youth and young adults, so when I saw the Day of Silence event, I thought it was another thing I could do along those lines. [Participating] does make it difficult to teach, but I do use note cards to write questions to get the students to engage in class discussion.
(Kathanne Greene – Professor at The University of Southern Mississippi and Allies Program participant)
Create a Facebook group. Some groups, like MSU’s School of Social Work, use social networking sites and web pages to help draw folks in to their event. This year the group will host their 2nd Annual Day of Silence Presentation with guest speakers on April 11, 2012. Check out their Facebook event at: https://www.facebook.com/events/378878768800043/
Document the event. We love pictures at MSSC so please if you have photos (and permission to use them) please send them our way and we’ll spotlight your group.
*It is absolutely necessary for you to gather names and contact information for anyone featured in photos (particularly those you send to us). We can’t use them if we can’t contact everyone in the photos to get permission
It is particularly important in states like Mississippi to show that involvement in national organizing is happening here. Many administrators have said that issues like anti-LGBT bullying and harassment do not affect their schools and further their students have no interest in getting involved in these events.
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