The Day of Silence

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The Day of Silence is a day celebrated in April in the United States on an annual basis. It’s an observance used to spread awareness about bullying and its effects on lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender students. It was originally created in the 1990s, and participation quickly spread to over 100 colleges and universities in its first year. Today, almost 10,000 schools participate in the Day of Silence. The events that occur on this day are organized by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, otherwise known as GLSEN. The specific day in April when the Day of Silence is observed changes from year to year. In 2008, it fell on April 25th. In 2011, it was on the 15th, and in 2012, it was on April 20th. In 2014, it was observed on April 11th, and in 2015, on April 17th. In 2016, the Day of Silence was held on April 15th.

History of the Day of Silence

The Day of Silence was created by Maria Pulzetti, who was a student at the time, in 1996. Maria wanted to create an event that would impact many of her fellow students and raise the visibility of BGLAD (bisexual, gay, and lesbian awareness days) week. At the time, she felt that panel discussions and conferences would only reach those who were willing to attend and were already somewhat aware of bullying and harassment in the LGBT community. A year later, in 1997, the day went national, and over a hundred universities began participating.
In 2000, the Day of Silence became an official project of GLSEN, thanks to Pulzetti’s classmates Chloe Palenchar and Jessie Gilliam. Eight years later, the Day of Silence was officially held in memory of Lawrence King—an 8th grader from E.O. Green Middle School who had been shot by his classmate. Today, the Day of Silence is observed by students in all fifty states in the United States and is also celebrated internationally in schools in Russia, Singapore, and New Zealand.

The Day of Silence Customs & Traditions

The Day of Silence is observed in schools across the United States and the world. However, it is not in every school. Therefore, if students want their school to participate in this day, it is important to gain the support of the school administration first. Students have the right to participate in the Day of Silence during non-instructional time—for instance, during breaks between classes, lunch, and other free times they may have during the day. However, students must recognize they do not have the right to remain silent during class if a teacher instructs them to speak. To avoid this issue, students should talk to their teachers ahead of time and ensure they can observe the day in their classroom.
The Day of Silence is usually observed by not speaking during class and using only written forms of communication. However, the Day of Silence can be observed in just about any way. For example, some students hold rallies, while others hold lectures or seminars. What is important is for students to spread the word about the bullying and harassment of members of the LGBTQ community. If schools register online with GLSEN, they can receive all their organizing materials for free online and also get support and digital resources.

When is it?
This year (2024)
April 12 Friday
Next year (2025)
April 11 Friday
Last year (2023)
April 14 Friday
Awareness & Cause