Thursday, April 24, 2008

Tomorrow is the National Day of Silence: Teen-Led Civil Disobedience to address Homophobia in Schools and our Culture!

The National Day of Silence brings attention to anti-LGBT name-calling, bullying and harassment in schools by having students use the power of silence.

This year's event will be held in memory of Lawrence King, the California 8th grader
who was shot and killed February 12th of this year by a classmate - Larry had told the boy he had a crush on him. (Check out my original post on the murder and my reaction.)

Tomorrow, Friday April 25, hundreds of thousands of students will come together

"to encourage schools and classmates to address the problem of anti-LGBT behavior."

When I first heard about this, it hit me wrong - after all, I think the problem is that we are TOO silent, and that GLBTQ people have long been too closeted, and that that lack of visibility and that lack of standing up and asserting ourselves plays into the culture of marginalizing queer people.

But, when I remembered how powerless I felt as a teenager; how I couldn't drive anywhere from where we lived in the suburbs to join in any marches (nor did I have the guts, probably...), how I didn't have any money to contribute to causes I cared about or pay for anything, and how there was no way I was going to do any kind of hunger strike (Yom Kippur was torture enough!) -- when I remembered I felt like I could do NOTHING to change the world - the idea behind the Day of Silence kinda grew on me.


Rosa Parks.

Martin Luther King, Jr.

The power of civil disobedience is awesome - it has brought nations to their knees, it has changed the world, and every Teenager HAS that power right now. The power to be silent, intentionally silent when everyone expects you to speak. The power to be silent can SCREAM louder than any voices raised in anger.

As long as people know WHY we are silent, it can change lives for the better.

So, I'm all for this National Day of Silence.

But once the day is over, let's NOT be silent any more. Let's talk with our teachers, librarians, school administrators, our families, and our friends about how things need to change to make all of us - including those of us who identify as GLBTQ - feel safe.

Safe to learn. To grow. And to live our lives with gusto.

If the Day of Silence sounds like something you're interested in being part of, check out the Day of Silence website, and note that GLSEN, the sponsoring organization behind the event, advises that:

The day is most successful when schools and students work together to show their commitment to ensuring safe schools for all students. Many schools allow students’ participation throughout the day. Some schools ask students to speak as they normally would during class and remain silent during breaks and at lunch. There is no single way to participate, and students are encouraged to take part in the way that is the most positive and uplifting for their school.

So go ahead, and dare to be part of changing things for the better.

Tomorrow, it won't take a single word.



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