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SAN DIEGO -- UCSD will join thousands of middle school, high school and college students across the nation who will participate in GLSEN's National Day of Silence on Friday, April 15, by taking a vow of silence to raise awareness about anti-LGBT name-calling, bullying and harassment.
This year marks the 15th anniversary of the first Day of Silence, held at the University of Virginia in 1996 by students who wanted to call attention to anti-LGBT bullying on campus. The Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network became the official sponsor in 2001, and participation has grown to include students from more than 7,500 middle and high schools and hundreds of colleges.
Over 20,000 students have already pre-registered on the National Day of Silence website and GLSEN expects "hundreds of thousands" of additional students to take part on campuses nationwide.
“The Day of Silence is a symbolic representation of the silencing effect young people across the country experience every day because of anti-LGBT bullying,” GLSEN Executive Director Eliza Byard said. “For far too long we as a nation have ignored the pervasive problem of anti-LGBT bullying. While we at GLSEN are working to improve the situation in schools for LGBT youth and those perceived to be LGBT, students across the country are coming together on the Day of Silence to say it needs to get better now.”
Students typically participate by remaining silent throughout the school day, unless asked to speak in class. The Day of Silence often ends with "Breaking the Silence" events organized by students on participating campuses.
Research has continually shown that anti-LGBT bullying is commonplace in American schools. More then eight out of 10 LGBT youth (84.6%) reported being harassed at school in the past year because of their sexual orientation and nearly two-thirds (63.7%) because of their gender expression, according to GLSEN's 2009 National School Climate Survey of more than 7,000 LGBT students.
The report also found that three out of five LGBT youth (61.1%) felt unsafe at school because of their sexual orientation and nearly a third (30%) had missed school in the last month because they felt unsafe or uncomfortable.
To bring attention to this issue and explain their participation in the Day of Silence, many students choose to hand out speaking cards found which are provided on the Day of Silence website. The cards read:
Please understand my reasons for not speaking today. I am participating in the Day of Silence (DOS), a national youth movement bringing attention to the silence faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and their allies. My deliberate silence echoes that silence, which is caused by anti-LGBT bullying, name-calling and harassment.
I believe that ending the silence is the first step toward building awareness and making a commitment to address these injustices. Think about the voices you are not hearing today.
The school is encouraging students to wear black clothing and has provided a limited supply of Day of Silence T-shirts and wristbands.
The day at UCSD will conclude with a banquet from 5 to 6 pm in the school's LGBT Center, where students and other participants will share their experiences over food and drink.
More information about the National Day of Silence is available online. Twitter users can follow the event and get updates by following @dayofsilence.