Speak up by shutting up


EMILY PALK, Staff Writer

Do you want to send a message and advocate for LGBT+ equality? If so, staying silent might be your best bet.

On April 12th, the student-led GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network) LGBT+ Day of Silence will be taking place across the globe, as a way to help students who lack safe places in their schools.

Started in 1996 by students at the University of Virginia, the Day of Silence began as an assignment on non-violent protests. In 1997, one year later, more than 100 schools participated and in 2001, GLSEN became the official sponsor of the event. Any school, from K-12, can participate in the event. 

The purpose of the Day of Silence is “to highlight the silencing and erasure of LGBTQ people at school.” The event aims to create a safe and inclusive place in schools for these students. It is also in remembrance of the many LGBT+ students who have taken their lives due to harassment or those killed in hate crimes.

According to GLSEN, “4 in 5 LGBT+ students do not see a representation of the LGBT+ community in their curriculum.” This lack of representation is prevalent in many health classes, which focus solely on heterosexual relationships, and does not provide education on other types of relationships. Many schools have a curriculum that does not outline the emotional aspect of self-identification. Not providing the necessary resources for students to help them understand the emotions they are going through can have detrimental consequences.

Another statistic from GLSEN states that “Nearly 8 in 10 students experience verbal harassment and nearly one third have skipped school because they felt unsafe or uncomfortable.”

Changing the way young people talk to, and about, each other is a hard challenge to take on, but if students have a place within the school where they can be open and honest about the way they feel about their surroundings, it can help students feel safer at school.

GHS is not a registered school, but students can still participate. The LGBT+ community has a noticeable presence in not only Gloucester but around the world. The protection of these people and the creation of inclusive of safe spaces is something that should be important to everyone.

Schools, individuals, or student-based organizations interested in participating can register for the Day of Silence at https://www.glsen.org/.