NEW YORK - Reps. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) and 33 cosponsors introduced a resolution in the House of Representatives on Wednesday (H.Con.Res. 92) to recognize and support GLSEN's 13th annual National Day of Silence on April 17
"GLSEN would like to express our gratitude to Representatives Eliot Engel, Tammy Baldwin and the 33 cosponsors who are adding their voice to the hundreds of thousands of students who will take a vow of silence on April 17," GLSEN Executive Director Eliza Byard said. "A week after GLSEN's lobby day in Washington, D.C., we are already seeing the impact young people can have on our democracy."
Students will take some form of a vow of silence on April 17 to bring attention to anti-lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) name-calling, bullying and harassment in schools. Students from more than 7,500 middle and high schools participated in 2008.
"Sadly, violence and discrimination against LGBT youth is all-too-common in American schools," said Rep. Engel, who along with Rep. Baldwin introduced a similar resolution last year. "It is a national disgrace that students feel threatened in school simply because of their sexual orientation. As a former public school teacher, I am proud to introduce this resolution. Americans need to know that thousands of children each day go to school deprived of a happy adolescence because of the insensitivity and cruelty shown by some fellow students, teachers, staff and parents."
Added Rep. Baldwin: "Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender students continue to face pervasive harassment and victimization in schools. As students use their silence to demand safe schools, we in Congress must use our voices to support them."
Nearly 9 out of 10 LGBT youth (86.2%) reported being verbally harassed at school in the past year because of their sexual orientation, nearly half (44.1%) reported being physically harassed and about a quarter (22.1%) reported being physically assaulted, according to GLSEN's 2007 National School Climate Survey of more than 6,000 LGBT students.
Additionally 60.8% of LGBT students said they felt unsafe at school because of their sexual orientation, and nearly a third (32.7%) said they had missed a day of school in the past month because of feeling unsafe.
"It is tragic to have any child suffer and what makes this worse is that it is completely preventable," Bullying and harassment of LGBT students stems from ignorance and can only be repaired with education. By helping other students, teachers, staff and parents understand the plight of LGBT students, we can help these students live a happier childhood and enable them to earn their education free from fear," Rep. Engel said.
GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, is the leading national education organization focused on ensuring safe schools for all students. Established nationally in 1995, GLSEN envisions a world in which every child learns to respect and accept all people, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression. GLSEN seeks to develop school climates where difference is valued for the positive contribution it makes to creating a more vibrant and diverse community. For information on GLSEN's research, educational resources, public policy advocacy, student organizing programs and educator training initiatives, visit www.glsen.org.