First observed back in 1996 and held annually every April, Day of Silence is a key LGBTQ+ awareness campaign that sets out to raise awareness to experiences of LGBTQ+ youth and the problems they still face within society, such as bullying, harassment and target violence.
Although originally intended to focus predominantly on problems within schooling, Day of Silence is now expanded into workplaces, universities and sporting events around the world. Now millions across the globe participate in staying silent for the duration of their day representing the silencing faced by LGBTQ+ youth.
Day of Silence Origins
Day of Silence was founded by Maria Pulzetti, a University of Virginia student, after feeling that LGBTQ+ youth were consistently silenced and ignored by the adult population, especially in regards to parents and administrators, with their concerns being completely missed or unheard.
Maria originally intended Day of Silence to be a one-time event which was held during the University of Virginia's Pride week. She truly believed that Day of Silence would greatly promote awareness to those who were not getting heard, as by completely surrounding them with silence it would be practically impossible to miss.
A year after the first Day of Silence by Maria in 1997, the day went national with well over 100 institutions taking part. And since then Day of Silence has continued to gain traction and raise further awareness to the silencing of LGBTQ+ people around the world. Mainly so in 2000, one of the largest LGBTQ+ education networks in America (GLSEN) adopted the day as one of their many official projects.
Day of Silence Growth
Many participants who take part in Day of Silence choose to wear tape over their mouths or Xs on their hands to further call attention to the movement, although this is not always viable or permitted depending on the institution, company or employer.
The Day of Silence is generally broken with a public speaking event or rally which allows all participants, and sometimes spectators to end their vow together and become more accepting of one another. Unfortunately some schools still oppose this day, stating it as disruptive behavior. The good news is that many are supporting it more frequently with most fully supporting the movement.
Today there are over 10,000 institutions registered as official participants in the Day of Silence with the day seeing gradual growth annually as more become become aware of the issues faced by LGBTQ+ youth around the world.
How to Observe Day of Silence
Like any LGBTQ+ key date, there's many ways in which you can get involved with the Day of Silence, although unlike others, this observation day has a set action in mind for those wanting to take part, although it's not the only thing you have to do. Below we've highlighted 3 key areas for you to join in with the Day of Silence and start helping raise further awareness to LGBTQ+ issues:
Take the Vow
Realistically, this is what the whole day is really about. By spending the day in silence, you can help draw attention to the pressing issues faced and may invite productive conversation with work or school friends.
Any movement is more powerful when there's greater numbers. Encourage your friends or loved ones to participate in the Day of Silence with you and make your silence that much louder.
Read up on LGBTQ issues
Educate yourself. By understanding more on the problems and core issues faced within society you can in turn help educate others around you who may be curious about your vow and why you took it in the first place.