April 17 marks the 19th year of the annual Day of Silence, which brings attention to anti-lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) bullying and harassment in schools.
The event, launched in 1996, has been officially organized and sponsored by GLSEN (or the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network) since 2001, and encourages students and young adults to take a vow of silence to encourage schools and classmates to tackle the problem of anti-LGBT behavior.
GLSEN's Director of Education and Youth Programs Jenny Betz told The Huffington Post in an email:
GLSEN’s Day of Silence gives students the power to bring attention to the silencing effect of anti-LGBT language and bullying and the need to make our schools safe and affirming for all youth, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression.
Despite significant progress, our most recent National School Climate Survey shows that 85 percent of LGBT students were verbally harassed in the past year and 30 percent missed at least one day of school in the past month because they felt unsafe or uncomfortable. As most states still do not have anti-bullying, anti-harassment and nondiscrimination laws protecting LGBT youth, the Day of Silence is as relevant and important as ever.
“We urge friends of AFA to join the national effort to restore to public education a proper understanding of the role of government-subsidized schools by helping to de-politicize the learning environment by keeping children out of school -- if your local school allows students to remain silent during instructional time -- on the Day of Silence,” Wildmon said in a statement which appeared on the AFA website.