On April 27, just stop talking

By Bruce Hartley

Life Columnist

With my background in education, it was suggested by my editor to cover the Day of Silence. I knew this was perfect for this old gay columnist and professor.

The Day of Silence (DOS) is GLSEN’s annual student-led day of action to spread awareness about the effects of the bullying and harassment of LGBT+ students. Students take a day-long vow of silence to represent the silencing of LGBT+ students.

My day job is teaching communications at Rogers State University, and this topic is close to my heart. I have witnessed bullying of LGBT+ people in school settings since the 70’s. As I researched DOS, I was thrilled to learn that this event was a brainchild of a group of college students at the University of Virginia in 1996 and became national in 1997.

Many people don’t realize, silence has power.

I challenge Gayly readers to support and participate in 2018 DOS. Consider the following suggestions for participation. Be sure and plan; there is more than one way to participate in DOS.

Check with your school counselors or human resources department to learn if they sponsor DOS.

If your school is not an official sponsor, make advance arrangements with teachers to design a plan for how you can participate without impacting your grade.

If your business is not an official sponsor, talk to your supervisor ahead of time, so they are aware you support DOS.

Consider using a “speaker card” for DOS participation with the something like the following: “Please understand I am not speaking today. I am participating in the Day of Silence, a national youth movement protesting the silence faced by LGBT+ people and their allies in schools. My deliberate silence echoes that silence, which is caused by harassment, discrimination, and prejudice. What are you doing to end the silence?”

If you are a student, one option is to speak only during class. Be silent in between classes, at lunch and after school, allowing you to participate if you are concerned about impacting your academic record.

How about taking a 24-hour day off social media? Make posts on social media a few days ahead of April 27, challenging your friends and followers to join you.

You can share a video, artwork, or photography showing what “breaking the silence” means or looks like to you. Tag @glsenofficial on Instagram or @GLSEN on Twitter, use #DayofSilence to help spread the word to others.

Go to www.glsen.org and register online for DOS. All registrants get first access to new resources and free streaming of LGBT-inclusive classroom documentaries.

Mark your calendars now for April 27 and decide how you will support this important event in your community. We must all work together to make our world a safer place for all people.

The Gayly. April 23, 2018. 11:58 a.m. CST.