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Today is Tuesday, November 27, 2007


Participate in a National Day of Silence this April

Day of Silence 2002"Please understand my reasons for not speaking today. I am participating in the Day of Silence, a national youth movement protesting the silence faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and their allies. My deliberate silence echoes that silence, which is caused by harassment, prejudice, and discrimination. I believe that ending the silence is the first step toward fighting these injustices. Think about the voices you are not hearing today. What are you going to do to end the silence?" - Quote from "speaking cards" passed out by participants during the Day of Silence.

In 1996, then-18-year-old student Maria Pulzetti first conceived of the Day of Silence, after writing a paper on nonviolent protest and grassroots organizing. In the seven years since, the project has grown into a national effort involving hundreds of groups and thousands of students in both high schools and colleges around the country. From the first-ever Day of Silence at the University of Virginia in 1996, to the more recent organizing of the project at Lake Orion High School (Lake Orion, Michigan) last year, its textured history reflects its diversity in both numbers and reach. Here's a brief history.

1996 - The Day of Silence is born.
Students organized the first Day of Silence, its original name, at the University of Virginia. With over 150 students participating, those involved felt it was a great success. The Day of Silence received extensive local press coverage and a positive response from the UVA community members, motivating Maria Pulzetti to take the Day of Silence nationally.

1997 - From one, to one hundred, National Day of Silence takes off
With a web page and much dedication, Pulzetti and then-19-year-old Jessie Gilliam, developed the project to be used in schools across the country. It was renamed the National Day of Silence, and that year nearly 100 colleges and universities participated. Some schools in Australia heard about the project and modeled a similar day for Australian schools.

1998 - The day keeps growing, the project begins
Pulzetti and Gilliam realized they couldn't expand the National Day of Silence alone, so they organized a team of regional coordinators who could assist schools better by working with and understanding local networks. Expanding from a one-day vow of silence to include additional actions and educational events, the Day of Silence Project was officially inaugurated. That year, for the first time in a recognized number, students in high schools joined the organizing efforts, helping double the number of participating schools to over 200.

1999-2001 - More people, more time, a message of unity sets in
Through the sponsorship of Advocates for Youth, Gilliam worked part-time over the summer of 1999 to maintain and expand the Day of Silence Project. A first in the project's history, a team of volunteers met for a weekend in Boston to discuss strategy and develop future plans towards assisting schools. The Day of Silence Project continued to support high schools, colleges and universities around the country with volunteers led by then-18-year-old Chloe Palenchar, the National Project Coordinator. Over 300 high schools participated that year.

2001 - Current - Day of Silence Project; still growing, still strong
Chris Tuttle, GLSEN?s National Student Organizer, Gilliam and Palenchar developed a proposal to provide the Day of Silence Project with new funding, staff, volunteers and an official organizational sponsor, GLSEN. To ensure its success, GLSEN developed a first-ever Day of Silence Project Advisory Board (which includes Pulzetti, Gilliam and Palenchar) to help build upon past successes, a Leadership Team of students to support high school organizers around the country and a partnership with the United States Student Association, to ensure colleges and universities receive equal support.

Today - The possibilities are endless
Just imagine: thousands of students, from San Francisco, California to Irmo, South Carolina, united in a visible silence to create real change in local schools. Whether used to educate classmates on the damaging effects of anti-LGBT bias or to demand passage of a statewide nondiscriminatory act inclusive of LGBT people, the Day of Silence Project is an awesome opportunity to create more inclusive school environments and make some noise.

What are you going to do to end the silence?

For too long, the silencing of LGBT people and their allies has been the norm. Whether it's the lack of LGBT-inclusive material in educational resources, or role assignments based upon our assumed gender, such silence and silencing affects us all in a profound way.

Just as profound, however, can be the use of silence as a form of protest. The Day of Silence moves the power of these personal experiences to a community-focused effort. The Day of Silence is a way of turning silence on its head, of reclaiming silence as a tool.

The Day of Silence institutes a visible silence, a silence during which participants protest anti-LGBT discrimination and abuse. Such an effort also allows us to reflect upon how powerful silencing can be, to focus on how we can make our own voices stronger and to begin to stop silencing ourselves.

For more information on how you or your school can get involved, visit the Day of Silence web site today!

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