Liam Arne, a high school student, from Manassas City, Virgina is one of the winners of the Megan Rapinoe Changing the Game contest. Check out Liam’s winning entry, where he discusses his experiences with homophobia in sports.
"As a gay former athlete, I identify strongly with Megan Rapinoe's bravery. I admire her for coming out and supporting LGBTQ student athletes through GLSEN’s Changing the Game. In school athletics, I have experienced an overpowering sense of homophobia from my not only peers, but also teachers. As I was beginning to discover who I was in middle school, this permeating homophobia and transphobia haunted me on my school's track team and step team, as well as a competitive community swim team and the occasional tennis court. Not a single practice or meet could pass by without at least one member of the team, a team that was supposed to provide me with a comfortable and accepting community, disavow who I was without realizing it. Hateful and prejudicial words and phrases were often used by my teammates. Worst of all, my coaches sanctioned these harmful expressions by using them themselves.
I came to realize that I could never fit in with my teams, just because I am gay. Ultimately, the homophobic gestures of my peers and adult sponsors who were supposed to provide a fun and fair experience made me so uncomfortable that I chose to abandon sports altogether. I am now proud to once again start calling myself a gay athlete since players like Megan Rapinoe and Robbie Rogers have courageously come out, stood up and called for an end to the injustice. No student deserves to cut short their athletic pursuits simply because of homophobia. GLSEN and Megan Rapinoe are taking steps to change that for the future."
Join us in congratulating Liam by posting your Selfie for Sports and tell us what you are doing to Change The Game!
May 1-7, 2013 is National Sports and Physical Education Week. I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to announce the winners of the Changing the Game with Megan Rapinoe Contest. As an out LGBT athlete, Megan Rapinoe is an amazing role model for all students and athletes. She serves as an example of someone working to Change the Game both on and off the field. Back in February, we worked together to create a contest to give away some signed Megan Rapinoe & Changing the Game swag and a $500 Nike Gift Card. We received an overwhelming response from student athletes all over the country. As we went through the submissions during the judging process, we kept coming back to one particular student.
“I went through the struggle of dealing with my sexuality throughout my time in High School and I think it's important that schools like mine are better educated and more accepting of LGBT students. I've played soccer my whole life and it is a huge part of who I am today. Before, and especially after Megan Rapinoe decided to publicly come out she has been my role model. I will be forever grateful for her decision to come out because it has truly helped me along with my coming out process.”
When we hold a contest, we announce the winner via an email announcement, blog posts, Facebook, Twitter and a press release. We knew there would be attention focused on the winners and wanted to ensure that it would be okay to contact their schools and celebrate their win. The student winning the grand prize was concerned about the attention having a negative impact on their life both inside school and on the soccer field. While they appreciated the gesture, they declined the spotlight. There are many reasons why a young person may not want to disclose their sexual orientation. The National School Climate Survey reports that 63% of LGBT youth do not feel safe at school. It is understandable why a student may second-guess this kind of attention, even when it is in a positive light.
- More than a quarter of LGBT student athletes reported having been harassed or assaulted while playing on a school sports team because of their sexual orientation (27.8%) or gender expression (29.4%).
- More than half of LGBT students who took a P.E. class were bullied or harassed during P.E. because of their sexual orientation (52.8%) or gender expression (50.9%).
- LGBT students commonly avoided athletic spaces at school including locker rooms (39.0%), P.E. classes (32.5%) and school athletic fields and facilities (22.8%) because of feeling unsafe or uncomfortable.
- A vast majority (74.9%) of LGBT students said that they were uncomfortable talking to their P.E. teachers or coaches about LGBT issues.
We would love to announce the grand prizewinner of the Megan Rapinoe for Changing the Game contest… but we can’t. At GLSEN, we value safety and respect for students, which means, allowing students the space to come out at their own pace.
Instead of using this opportunity to feature the grand prize winner, we are going to break the silence around LGBT issues in sports by featuring blog posts from other student athletes involved in the Megan Rapinoe for Changing the Game contest in honor of National Sports and Physical Education Week (May 1-7th). We will be bringing you the stories of several student athletes in their own words.
This year at GLSEN, we decided it was time that Day of Silence really got into the YouTube scene.
And we're not the only ones. So many of you have been taking to YouTube to raise awareness about Day of Silence and the harassment and violence that LGBT students still face in schools.
Inspired by all of your amazing videos, I started a playlist on the GLSEN YouTube channel collected #DayOfSilence videos from around YouTube. Check 'em out.
What about you? Have you created a video for Day of Silence?
What's better than taking a selfie? Taking a selfie for a good cause!
Your selfies are flowing in on Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, Instagram, and through our website. It's inspiring to see so many people showing their support--showing your support.
I started putting together a slideshow of the selfies (it's playing on the screen in our conference room!)
Do you want to join in?
We'd love to see it!
The Day of Silence is finally here! Are you prepared?
Take the time this afternoon/evening to double check your to-do list with your GSA advisor and/or fellow organizers. Make sure you haven’t put anything off until the last minute because once you get to school you will want to be able to hit the ground running in order to make the biggest impact.
Here are some things to remember as you finalize your arrangements for your Day of Silence event:
LIST: Make a to-do list of final tasks and think of people who could take on some of those tasks for you. Get started with the items on this list!
REGISTER: If you haven’t already, be sure to CLICK HERE to register your participation in the Day of Silence and be counted among the hundreds of thousands of other students nationwide participating in the Day of Silence.
CONNECT: The night before your event call, email or text all of the people helping you organize to make sure everyone is on the same page. Also make sure to stay connected on social media, like facebook and Twitter!
PRINT: Be sure you have all the materials you need, and extras to hand out, such as: Speaking Cards, Lambda Legal: Freedom to Speak (Or Not) 2013, ACLU: Letter to Principal or Educator, Stickers, and cut, fold, or label these materials as needed.
GATHER: Get all Day of Silence items and materials in one place to ensure that they are clean and organized (shirts, buttons, stickers, pamphlets, speaking cards, posters, etc.)
CHARGE: You want to take pictures, right? Text? Tweet? Make sure your camera, phone and computer batteries are all charged up and ready to go in the morning!
DOUBLE CHECK your to-do list: It never hurts to be extra careful!
REST: You’re gonna need it for your exciting day of taking action! We are so excited to hear about how your day goes! Don't forget to post your pictures and thoughts on facebook, Twitter or via e-mail. We love to hear from you.
Have an great and empowering day, Juliann DiNicola
Jeremy goes over your basic rights on the Day of Silence:
1. 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. If your principal or a teacher tells you otherwise, you should contact our office or the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network.
2. You do NOT have a right to remain silent during class time if a teacher asks you to speak. If you want to stay quiet during class on Day of Silence, we recommend that you talk with your teachers ahead of time, tell them that you plan to participate in Day of Silence and why it’s important to you, and ask them if it would be okay for you to communicate in class on that day in writing. Most teachers will probably say yes.
3. Your school is NOT required to “sponsor” Day of Silence. But Day of Silence is rarely a school-sponsored activity to begin with – it’s almost always an activity led by students. So don’t be confused – just because your school isn’t officially sponsoring or participating in Day of Silence doesn’t mean that you can’t participate.
4. Students who oppose Day of Silence DO have the right to express their views, too. Like you, they must do so in a civil, peaceful way and they only have a right to do so during non-instructional time. For example, they don’t have a right to skip school on Day of Silence without any consequences, just as you don’t have a right to skip school just because you don’t like what they think or say.
If you feel like your rights have been violated, please report your experiences here.
Are you ready for GLSEN’s Day of Silence?
Tomorrow, thousands of students across the country will participate in Day of Silence to highlight the effects of anti-LGBT bullying and harassment in schools.
It’s a day of youth empowerment, activism and inspiration!
But don’t worry; adults can participate in Day of Silence, too!
Make a Selfie for Silence, like I did.
Then, watch the video below for Quick Tips to support the Day of Silence today and tomorrow, and to make your school more safe and inclusive every day. Together, we can end the silence.
Good morning to you all! The Day of Silence is finally here and we're up bright and early with you to make this year a success!
This year, students in every state, the District of Columbia, and nearly 60 countries are participating in events at their school for the Day of Silence!
If you encounter any resistance to your participation in Day of Silence, go to http://dayofsilence.org/legalhelp/ to report it.
If you're unsure about whether or not you'll participate in Day of Silence today, we invite you to participate in whatever way feels right for you: not talking at all, remaining silent for a portion of a day, or using your voice to raise awareness of the bullying & harassment LGBT students face.
If you haven't already, please take a moment to register your participation so we can count you in our numbers! Let's make this year the biggest year yet!
Together, we’ll keep working until that’s a reality!
Over the past 4 years attending my high school in the suburbs of New Jersey, I have seen many students and faculty members participate in the Day of Silence. To be honest, when I was in middle school, and even high school, I believed students used this day to just get out of participating in a class that they did not like, but as I learned more about this day, I realized silence signified something so powerful.
In my school, every year a week before the Day of Silence, high school students visit middle school classes to discuss LGBT issues, bullying, and the day of silence itself. This day is called The Day of Acceptance. This past Thursday, I decided to participate in this event, and the response I received from the 8th grade class could not have been more positive. We discussed what it would feel like keeping one’s identity a secret, and we also discussed how to not be a bystander when bullying happens, but an up-stander. The ideas and comments that were coming from these 8th graders were so mature and supportive. Because this class was so responsive, we went on to discuss the Day of Silence. I was happy to find out that the middle school already knew about this day and what it meant, and I was also happy to learn that acceptance and maturity about the topic of sexuality has increased since the time I was in middle school, which was not even so long ago.
Although there are not many out students at my school, there are many straight allies, like myself, that are willing to advocate for those voices that could not be heard today. Overall, I think that only good can come out of the Day of Silence. Each year I see more students participating, more students becoming aware of LGBT issues, and more students showing their support. The enthusiasm is spreading, and this year will be my first year participating in the Day of Silence. I have always thought about doing so, and although I am already a senior at my school, it is better late than never.
As a high school senior, I look back on the times at my school, and I am so proud that so many people stay silent throughout this day to signify the silence that many people in the LGBT community, especially teens in high school, are subjected to because of their sexual orientation. Even though I see some students begin to talk toward the end of the day, it just shows how hard it is to be silent. I have spoken to students and faculty about their silence and they all say how difficult it is to not express themselves for just one day. That one day of silence can signify a lifetime in the eyes of someone who is closeted, bullied, or a part of the LGBT community. One day is definitely not too much to ask because just one day of being silent can help and support others around the world to find their voice to speak up.
In our last GSA meeting, our principal come in to participate and listen to what our GSA does and what ideas we have for Day of Silence. He was very supportive of our group and of the Day of Silence, and made many of us feel reassured that we could pursue and educate other students and teachers on an issue that has significant meaning to us.
We had the opportunity to ask him a ton of questions, like: "Can we wear Day of Silence gear?" "Can we show a video during the announcements and have discussions about what the students saw?" And, "Do teachers have the right to make students participating in the Day of Silence talk in class that day?"* We were able to show our principal different videos, including the GLSEN video with Wanda Sykes, and he was able to give us more information and insight on what would be allowed in our school for that day.
Our GSA will be creating a formal proposal to give him, but we now know we are allowed to participate in the Day of Silence with the support and confidence of our principal.