>GLSEN's Executive Director Eliza Byard has spoken with the family of Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover, the 11-year-old boy who took his own life Monday after enduring constant bullying, including daily anti-gay language, at school. Carl did not identify as gay.
Read GLSEN's initial press release about the bullying and suicide here.
Eliza's message to Day of Silence supporters:
I want you to know that I have been in contact with the Walker family regarding the suicide of 11-year-old Carl Walker-Hoover this past Monday. I have extended sincere condolences to the family on behalf of the entire GLSEN network, explained our mission to end bullying and harassment of all students, regardless of sexual orientation and gender expression, and asked for – and received – Carl’s mother’s permission to talk about Carl’s story in the context of the Day of Silence next week. The Day of Silence will fall on what would have been Carl’s 12th birthday. On the most recent call, a family member said, “Even though this event is on Carl’s birthday, we believe it is important that his story be told. Whether or not a student is gay this language should not be used to insult others.” I have expressed to the family GLSEN’s collective resolve to do all in our power to heed his mother’s call to action and ensure that in the future no more students suffer as Carl did.
>A guest post by Amena J. one of our fabulous GLSEN staff members:
This post was supposed to be a report back on GLSEN Southern Maine’s GSA Night. Wednesday the Chapter hosted an interfaith forum featuring Bishop Gene Robinson. As you can imagine the Chapter was thrilled to host an event with such an esteemed guest. I decided to fly to Portland from DC for this event. I too was excited to meet someone who has made an impact on the LGBT and faith communities.
Due to numerous travel debacles involving two planes, a bus and three states I made it to the interfaith forum 20 minutes before it was over. Frustrated and disappointed I sat and listened to the end of talks by other clergy at the forum.
Afterwards a flock of students went to Bishop Robinson for photo ops and more discussion about the speech that I never heard. I did get to meet the Bishop he shook my hand and was genuinely sympathetic to my dilemma. Bishop Robinson ended the evening with a moment of silence and closing remarks.
So what to write? As I drove to my hotel I labored over how to sum up an evening that wasn’t. After a day composed of almost 12 hours of travel and aggravation I was weary. Then it hit me. Maybe this trip was one big metaphor. It may seem cliché but sometimes we need to be reminded of a basic lesson, never give up.
On Wednesday I encountered obstacle after obstacle. It seemed the harder I tried to get to Portland the worse things got. At one point I considered heading back to DC. I’m glad I didn’t do that. Although, I did not get to hear his speech I did reach my goal of meeting Bishop Robinson. What little of the event I participated in was wonderful.
Several of you reading this blog are going to participate in the Day of Silence. Many of you have encountered some mighty struggles along the way. If you are an activist or organizer you know how hard it can be to keep going day after day. The world throws many obstacles in you path and yet you press on. Although your journey may be long and you may get weary, know that you will reach your goal.
Wishing you a wonderful Day of Silence,
>Lots of great ideas and stories being shared over on the Day of Silence facebook page (link to the right). My recent favorites are the strategies that some students have come up with to have a visual show of support for the Day of Silence, to include those who, for whatever reasons, who will be silent during breaks between classes but need to talk to fulfill class requirements or have other reasons that they cannot remain silent all day or who aren't in school. My favorite so far is the simplest one: wear red to support the DOS.
As a GLSEN staffer, I am not able to pledge complete silence but I will pledge to wear red on the 17th in support of the Day of Silence.
What other suggestions do you have for supporting the silence?
>If you're in town check out:
GLSEN Pittsburgh's Break the Silence Party
• Meet new people,
• enjoy free food, and
• bring your iPod and we’ll play your favorite tunes!
April 17th from 3:00 to 6:30
Planned Parenthood Center
933 Liberty Ave Suite 200
Right in the middle of downtown Pittsburgh.
Two blocks up from the Wood St. station.
- GLSEN's Break the Silence Party (Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh-Teen)
Sponsored by the Pittsburgh Chapter of the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network
>Have you and all your friends registered? Whether you're going to be silent all day or just at lunch hour register your DOS observance at our sister site: StudentOrganizing.org.
Why register? Every person who registers with GLSEN's Student Organizing site shows that they are committed to safe schools. That number is an important way to demonstrate the great impact that the Day of Silence has in schools and communities across the country. It only takes a few moments to sign up and be counted and your registration can make a big difference.
As of today the Day of Silence will be observed in nearly 4000 schools April 17th. But we're still two weeks away. Let's get that number a whole lot higher.
Remember: Don’t just participate, REGISTER!
>Check out the movie "Pedro" tonight at 8 p.m. on MTV and LOGO. "Pedro" tells the story of Pedro Zamora, a gay activist who was a member of "The Real World: San Francisco." He died of AIDS-related causes the day after the last episode aired in 1994.
>Sadly, this is not an April Fool's joke, but it is one of those things you have to see to believe.
A columnist for World Net Daily compared GLSEN, the Day of Silence and GSAs to Hitler Youth. All because we believe that every student has a right to be safe in school and get an education free of bullying and harassment.
>Students are going to break the silence at the Knoxville TN Amphitheater on April 17. A few videos were created to promote this event. Check out the first here created by Brandon Lee.