April 15, 2010

>The Day of Silence is almost here! For today's Student Voices column, Arny, from Lodi, New Jersey, explains how he and fellow students view the Day of Silence as a way to address the particular hurdles that LGBT students of color face, and how students can participate in the Day of Silence to raise awareness about biased-based discrimination and violence of many different kinds. Thanks, Arny!

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The National Day of Silence is an event with the purpose of calling attention to bullying and harassment towards lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer students (LGBTQ) and their allies. However, this silent protest has a wider scope.

What is the Day of Silence like for a gay student of color?

For many LGBTQ students of color, homosexuality remains a forbidden taboo. For others, it may be a great disappointment or dishonor to the family. Add to this constant teasing for being Asian, or Latino, or African American etc. in schools, and it’s an unbearable pain to withstand. The Day of Silence only helps highlight the additional silent suffering of LGBTQ students of color.

In my school the Day of Silence was mostly dominated by students of color. The majority of us rebelling from traditional values, ignorant peers, and a society that shuns us for who we are whether it be based on race or sexual orientation. I believe that the Day of Silence only becomes even more personally meaningful to students of color because we must endure bullying from another side of the spectrum. A student’s skin color, religion, class, disability, and sexual orientation and gender identity are all reasons for bullying and the Day of Silence helps shed light upon the mistreatment, bullying and harassment each student, who suffers this torment, endures in order to attend school.

April 14, 2010

>Tweet, not speak
On the Day of Silence tweet about DOS as much as you can.

Important: If you are a student in middle or high school, make sure you only tweet during times that your school permits. Tweet in the morning before school starts, at lunch (if allowed), and especially after school.

If you can’t tweet any other time, plan to tweet within one hour after classes end. We hope that will create a rolling, growing Twitter movement from the East to the West coast as schools close for the day. Students in Alaska and Hawaii, join in when you can. And if you live outside the U.S. you can be a part too.

Tweet topics
Tweet what you’re doing for DOS. Tweet how many students are participating at your school. Tweet the different ways you’re getting support. Tweet if you’re holding a Breaking the Silence event. Tweet about how many buttons you’re wearing. Tweet about the reactions of your classmates. Basically, if it has to do with DOS, tweet it on Friday.

Tagging your tweets
IMPORTANT: Always mention DOS (@dayofsilence) by using the “@” or “#” tags. And ask your friends to retweet (RT) you.

Tweet chat
We’ll have a team tweet-in on Friday afternoon in solidarity with all the hundreds of thousands of students participating in the Day of Silence. We’ll do our best to keep up with your questions.

Buttons
We have Tweet the Silence! web buttons for your web site. To get one, click here.

And don't miss FollowFriday! CLICK HERE to learn what Oprah, Ashton Kutcher and the Day of Silence have in common!

April 14, 2010

>As you’ve all seen, there are some groups and some individuals out there who are doing all they can to detract from the purpose of the Day of Silence. Some of these groups are encouraging parents to pull students out of school, organizing events to counter the Day of Silence, or protesting schools and community centers hosting Day of Silence activities. Some individuals have been visiting the Day of Silence pages on Facebook and elsewhere to share hateful comments.

Here are a couple of tips for you if you find yourself facing this type of opposition during your Day of Silence organizing:

  1. Stay cool: It’s difficult to be challenged, and some that oppose the Day of Silence may say hurtful things. Relax. Breathe. Remember that you’re participating in DOS to make a difference, not to start fights.
  2. Step away: The Day of Silence is about starting conversations, but often those strongly opposing DOS are not truly interested in genuine conversation. Some are only interested in provoking you. In these cases it’s best to walk away and not respond. Don’t let anyone detract from the purpose!
  3. Be respectful: The Day of Silence is about ending anti-LGBT bullying and harassment in school. To do this, it's important to treat people with respect. Treat people who oppose the DOS not as they treat you but with the same respect you hope to be treated with. Remember, the Day of Silence is a peaceful demonstration!
  4. Share The Four Truths: Often people make decisions about the Day of Silence without getting accurate information about the action. This document highlights four often misunderstood elements of the Day of Silence. Print it out and provide it to those who may be confused as to what DOS is for.
  5. Report it: If there are people who are bullying or harassing you as part of their opposition, you should report it—to school officials, online authorities, your parents—immediately. In school, make sure to notify a supportive staff member, and ask for their assistance as you follow up on the status of your report.
  6. Share your story: Stay connected with other organizers about your experience. Talk to your student club or tell your story on the Facebook Day of Silence Page and Twitter.
  7. Contact us: If you experience extreme amounts of opposition, face bullying and harassment, or feel your rights have been violated, please contact us at info@dayofsilence.org and let us know right away! We can put you in touch with the appropriate legal support.
  8. Spread the word: Share this post with other organizers so that we can all work together to focus our attention on the things that matter to make change.

We hope you have an effective, safe, and fun Day of Silence!

April 14, 2010

>The Day of Silence is only 2 days away! For today's entry, we have Audri, a student from Laurel, Mississippi. Audri recently attended GLSEN's Safe Schools Advocacy Summit, an annual event in Washington D.C. that trains student and adult advocates from across the country to better push for safe schools policies, and allows them to meet with their Congresspeople on Capitol Hill. Thanks, Audri!

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I am Audri and I am a 15 year old out lesbian in Laurel, Mississippi. I was never silenced about being a lesbian, but I was bullied because of it. I was the only out LGBT person in middle school, and had a very masculine appearance. Many kids loved to taunt me because of that. I was called names, pushed around in the halls and bathroom, and people tried to trip me when I walked by. I knew that if I sought help from the school administration nothing would get solved. Not only would it not get solved, but it wasn't just students who bullied and harassed me. Teachers did as well.

There were times where I took matters into my own hands, and I was the one who got in trouble for that. Whether it was because I got in a fight because someone tried to trip me, or getting in an argument with a teacher because she treated me differently from everyone else in class I was the one in trouble. I felt that I was not a person to them. They didn't care to help me. My principal did help many ways, but even if I went to him about my bullying it would have only gotten worse. We didn't have a way to deal with kids being bullied. Because I was silenced about my bullying I was skipping school at least once or twice a week. I was constantly in the office and, couldn't get my work done in class. As a result of that my grades kept getting worse. I had gotten to the point where one day I just refused to go. That was towards the end of the school year of my eighth grade year. My mom withdrew me out of school that day.

Even though I am home schooled now I still celebrate Day of Silence. I feel like I am a part of something bigger than myself. Even though I am home schooled, and it is to just myself. I know that I am not alone in this. That I stand with thousands of kids all around the country that are supporting change in this movement as well. The Day of Silence is because of what I went through, and I want to be a part of that change. Even if it is just for me.

April 13, 2010

>We encourage each person to participate in the way they are most comfortable. Some will be silent all day long. Others will hold a silent lunch. Still others will be vocal supporters. The key is that you call attention to the silencing effect of anti-LGBT bullying and harassment.

During the Day of Silence many will be communicating online to show their support of the Day of Silence. It’s definitely okay to use Facebook, Twitter, texting and other forms of online communication during the Day of Silence, especially if you're spreading the word about DOS!

Also, on Friday we'll be Tweeting the Silence all day, so be sure to follow @DayofSilence on Twitter and tweet using the #dayofsilence hashtag. Stay tuned for more details!

April 13, 2010

>Day of Silence is around the corner! Maybe you haven’t had an opportunity to organize, or perhaps your school won’t support your participation. Don’t worry, there are still lots of things you can do to participate in the Day of Silence! Download Tips for the Last- Minute Organizer for seven suggestions of how you can still support the Day of Silence with little time or school support. Go to the Get Ready! section of the Day of Silence website for this and more resources to help you with your DOS organizing!

And remember, if you have any questions, please email us at info@dayofsilence.org.

April 13, 2010

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You asked for it, and you got it. Our new downloadable poster can help you can spread the word and gain more visibility about your Day of Silence events. Download the poster and print it out on a plain 8 1/2 x 11 sheet of paper. In the blank box write the date of your Day of Silence activities. It's a simple way to boost your organizing!

Click here to download or visit our Get Ready! page on the Day of Silence website to get more resources!

April 12, 2010

>Many of you registered for free Day of Silence products. We apologize if you have not yet received these materials. There have been some difficulties with the mailing, which have led to a significant delay in delivery. Although all materials have now been mailed and will begin arriving soon, some of you may not receive your packets until just before or possibly on or after the Day of Silence.

We are working to ensure that this problem does not happen again in the future. Please accept our sincere apologies for any inconvenience this may have caused you.

In the meantime, please consider using these resources to help draw attention to your Day of Silence activities:

STICKER TEMPLATES
Download this template and print your own Day of Silence stickers using AVERY standard name badge labels (Avery # 5395).

SPEAKING CARDS
Download and print your own Day of Silence Speaking Cards on either a standard 8.5x11 sheet or on AVERY Standard 3263 Postcards. You can print double-sided to customize the back with local information.

If you have any questions please feel free to email info@dayofsilence.org.

April 12, 2010

>Week 1 (April 12-16): Here at Last!
You’ve been planning for weeks, and the Day of Silence is almost here! There’s still much to do, and a lot of ways to participate!

  • Spread the word: You've worked for weeks to get the word out about the Day of Silence, so keep it going! Make sure students, teachers and administrators in your school know that the Day of Silence is happening and what to expect from participants. Notifying people early is the key to a successful and effective Day of Silence!
  • Be visible: Red is the official DOS color, so if everyone participating wears red you'll be sure to stand out. And don’t forget t-shirts, buttons, stickers, face-paint—these are all ways you can help draw attention to your action.
  • Be respectful: The Day of Silence is about ending anti-LGBT bullying and harassment in school. To do this, it's important to treat people with respect. There are likely people at your school who will try to challenge your silence, your activities or your beliefs. Treat these people not as they treat you but with the same respect you hope to be treated with. Remember, the Day of Silence is a peaceful demonstration!
  • Know your rights: Remember, you DO have the right to remain silent between classes and before/after school. You do NOT have the right to ignore your teachers' requests during instructional time. If a teacher asks for you to speak during class, do it! Please don’t put your education at risk. Review this document, which outlines some of your rights during the Day of Silence. (Lambda Legal PDF Download)

Follow Up
If you have any questions or ideas, or if you want to tell us what you’re planning for your Day of Silence please email us at info@dayofsilence.org.

And don't forget to join the conversation on the Day of Silence Facebook Page and @DayofSilence on Twitter.

April 09, 2010

>GUEST POST FROM THE ACLU:

Two things I’ve learned over the years that I’ve worked with LGBT students at the American Civil Liberties Union are that many school administrators and teachers don’t have the slightest clue about what their students’ legal rights are, and that a lot of the ones who do know go right ahead and violate students’ rights anyway because they think they can get away with it.

The only way to be sure that your school will respect and uphold your legal rights is for YOU to educate yourself about what your rights are and hold your school to its responsibility to protect and enforce them.

That’s never more true than during the Day of Silence, an annual event designed to bring attention to the bullying, harassment, and name-calling LGBT students often experience in school. Here are four things you need to know about your rights as you mark Day of Silence this year on Friday, April 16.

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’re concerned that your school might forbid you from participating in Day of Silence, you might want to print out the ACLU's "Letter to Educators about the Day of Silence" (2-page PDF) and give it to your school administrators. Tell them they should show the letter to the school’s lawyer. The letter explains what schools' responsibilities are regarding Day of Silence.

And for more information on your rights in public schools, check out the ACLU's Youth and Schools Work website.

By Chris Hampton
Public Education Associate
American Civil Liberties Union

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