Q: I'm a queer/LGBTQ student, and I've been out at school for a little while. My school's gay-straight alliance ( GSA ) wants to participate in GLSEN's upcoming National Day of Silence and we've been looking forward to having a lot of people join us. Most of the teachers and students are encouraging, but we've run into some issues when we try to advertise and participate in the Day of Silence. What can we do?
A: First, we congratulate you on being out at schoolit is brave to be so honest with everyone and we are happy to hear that your friends and teachers have been supportive! The Day of Silence is a meaningful protest that has raised awareness of LGBTQ issues in schools, by focusing on anti-LGBTQ bullying and harassment. During this year's Day of Silenceon April 15students across the country will take a vow of silence during the school day. The Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network ( GLSEN ) provides materials to students who wish participate in the Day of Silence, as well as materials for schools that want to support participating students.
Lambda Legal's Help Desk receives many calls and emails from students each year leading up to the Day of Silence. Many of the students who contact us want to know more about their right to participate in the Day of Silence, and others have been told by their school that they cannot. Lambda Legal has advocated in numerous schools around the nation to help students exercise their right to participate in the silent protest. In most of these cases, school officials responded to our advocacy by allowing the students to participate in the day of action.
The bottom line is that every student has the right to participate in the Day of Silence.
This powerful expression of strength and solidarity gives students like you the opportunity to shine a light on the continued anti-LGBTQ bullying and harassment that takes place in schools. This discriminatory treatment comes at the hands of other students, administrators, and even legislators. Given the current climate generated by anti-trans laws like North Carolina's HB2, it is imperative that young people have the support of their classmates and people outside of their schools. This is where Lambda Legal comes in.
As GLSEN's legal partner for the National Day of Silence, we advocate every year on behalf of students whose attempts to participate in the Day of Silence are being thwarted by hostile administrators. We are proud of this work and we will continue to stand behind LGBTQ students in their efforts to speak out against bullying.
If you have any questions, if feel you have been discriminated against because of your sexual orientation, or if school administrators are interfering with your ability to participate in GLSEN's Day of Silence, please contact Lambda Legal's Help Desk at 866-542-8336, or see http://lambdalegal.org/help.
Christopher Clark is the Lambda Legal LGBTQ youth and schools program strategist.