Each year, thousands of students across the country participate in GLSEN’s Day of Silence, a daylong vow of silence symbolizing the silencing effect of anti-LGBT bullying and harassment. This year’s Day of Silence takes place next Friday, April 15, and students from all 50 states and many different countries will participate.
Planning a Day of Silence event at your school or in your community may seem daunting, but GLSEN’s Day of Silence team is here to help. Here are 11 things you can do to prepare.
1. Register your participation. Visit dayofsilence.org/register to let GLSEN know that you’ll be participating in the Day of Silence. Your registration helps us to stay in touch with you and allows us to know just how many people are committed to GLSEN’s Day of Silence each year.
2. Inform your school’s administration of your plan to participate. It’s a courtesy to let your school know that students will be observing GLSEN’s Day of Silence. Request a meeting with your principal, student affairs official, or other administrator to tell them about your plans. Be prepared to share approximately how many students will be participating, and answer any questions respectfully. Check out this letter to schools from the ACLU for help with discussing GLSEN’s Day of Silence with school officials.
3. Hold a Day of Silence meeting. Whether you hold an open GSA meeting or a meeting specifically dedicated to GLSEN’s Day of Silence, choose a time and place where students can gather to discuss the Day of Silence and pledge to participate.
4. Hang up posters and flyers. Print out GLSEN’s Day of Silence posters or create your own, and hang them around your school or LGBT community center to spread the word about the Day of Silence. Include contact information for yourself or your GSA advisor in case potential participants have questions.
5. Make an announcement to the student body. Does your school have morning or afternoon announcements over the PA system? Ask if you can make an announcement about the Day of Silence in the days leading up to April 15.
6. Talk to your teachers. You have the right to be silent at school during non-instructional time, but you do not have the right to remain silent during class time if a teacher asks you to speak as part of class participation. To prevent any conflict, talk to your teachers before the Day of Silence and ask if there is a way for you to participate in class while remaining silent. For example, some teachers hold a silent lesson or allow students to communicate only in writing.
7. Gear up. Today is the last day to order official Day of Silence gear from the GLSEN Shop to get it in time for April 15. Stock up on t-shirts, stickers, buttons, and temporary tattoos, and make sure to use discount code SILENCE to get 30% off your order. You can also show your support by wearing other GLSEN gear, rainbow attire, or the color red.
8. Have a plan in case of pushback. Some schools may try to prevent you from participating in GLSEN’s Day of Silence. If this happens, reach out to Lambda Legal for guidance and to determine whether legal action is appropriate. It may be helpful to review GLSEN’s Addressing Resistance to the Day of Silence resource in advance.
9. Pass out speaking cards. In the days leading up to the Day of Silence, print out and distribute GLSEN’s Day of Silence speaking cards, which explain why participants are being silent. Encourage students to carry the card around on the Day of Silence as a way of silently answering questions about their participation. Don’t want to print out cards? You can also set the speaking card text as your cell phone background to show anyone who asks about the Day of Silence.
10. Be silent. On April 15, participate in GLSEN’s Day of Silence in whatever way feels right and safe to you. Some students don’t speak all day, while others take a vow of silence on social media. Don’t forget your speaking card and your Day of Silence gear!
11. Break the silence together. Plan a time and place where Day of Silence participants can gather at the end of GLSEN’s Day of Silence, such as the GSA advisor’s classroom or a space outside. This is where participants will speak for the first time all day and reflect on their experiences. Review GLSEN’s Breaking the Silence resource for guidance.
If you have any questions about how to organize a Day of Silence event, GLSEN’s Day of Silence team is available to support you at firstname.lastname@example.org. Have a great Day of Silence!