Here’s How You Can Participate in the Virtual National Day of Silence Today

Supermajority Education Fund

April 24, 2020

Friday is the 25th anniversary of the National Day of Silence, a student-led demonstration in which LGBTQ students and allies take a vow of silence to protest the harassment and discrimination of LGBTQ people in schools. University of Virginia students started this event in 1996 as part of a class assignment on non-violent protests, and the event has continued every April since. 

High schools and universities across the counties may now be closed, but students can join a virtual event the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN) is hosting on Friday by registering online or downloading a  planning guide to organize their own Virtual Day of Silence. Participants can honor this day by changing their profile photos on social media with the “Day of Silence” frame and posting a photo or video telling your friends and family why you’re choosing to be silent using templates included in the planning guide or creating your own.

Melanie Willingham-Jaggers, GLSEN’s Deputy Executive Director, told Supermajority News that there are many good reasons for people to take part in the Day of Silence from home. 

“Four in five LGBTQ students don’t see positive LGBTQ representation in their curriculum, eight in 10 experience anti-LGBTQ verbal harassment, and over a third miss school for feeling unsafe or uncomfortable,” Willingham-Jaggers said. “We have students that cannot learn because they do not feel safe. Participating in the Day of Silence advocates for safe and inclusive policies and representation in curriculum.”

They added that students tell them that what they want more than anything during this pandemic is to have something to look forward to. With pride and other LGBTQ celebrations being canceled all over the globe, the continuation of this event sends a message that community is still important. Willingham-Jaggers said that GLSEN is on track to surpass last year’s registration numbers. 

Among other things to consider on National Day of Silence is the fact that LGBTQ+ people are at risk of experiencing harm and homophobia during the coronavirus pandemic. Transgender people, whose hate-crime-related deaths have increased in recent years, are especially vulnerable during a national crisis. 

“As complicated as life is for everyone right now, things can be exponentially more complicated for transgender people,” Charlie Arrowood, a New York attorney who specializes in transgender issues, told Supermajority News. “Many trans people don’t go to the doctor when they need to or even for routine care even when we’re not in the midst of a global pandemic. There are lots of reasons for this—you don’t have the energy to answer irrelevant and inappropriate questions about your body or educate your provider; you don’t want to be called the wrong thing just because you haven’t had a legal name change; you can’t afford to update your documents because you are unemployed because you haven’t updated your documents (it’s a cycle).”

For more information on how to participate in the National Day of Silence, visit the GLSN website