Day of Silence – April 10, 2020

Fri Apr 10

Created in 1996 and held the second Friday of every April (April 10), Day of Silence is a campaign that seeks to shed light on what many LGBTQ youth experience daily. Initially intended to focus on this problem within the school system, it has since expanded into workplaces, university campuses, and sporting events. Yearly, millions participate by staying silent for the duration of their day, representing the silencing of LGBTQ students. 

 

History of Day of Silence

Day of Silence was created by a University of Virginia student named Maria Pulzetti. She felt that LGBTQ youth were consistently silenced and ignored by parents and administrators, and that their concerns and complaints were falling on deaf ears. Inspired by this, Maria created the Day of Silence as a one-time event held during the University’s LGBTQ pride week. She believed the day would promote awareness amongst those who might not have been tuned into these issues, by surrounding them with a silence they couldn’t help but notice.

In 1997, one year after the day’s creation, it went national, with over 100 institutions participating. In 2000, GLSEN, one of the largest LGBTQ education networks in the country, adopted the Day of Silence as one of their official projects. Today, students at all levels participate in the day. Many participants choose to wear tape over their mouths or Xs on their hands to further call attention to the movement.

At the end of day, the silence is typically broken with a rally or speaking event, allowing all participants to end their vow together. Although some school districts oppose the day, considering it disruptive, most support it, actively encouraging participation through the school’s LGBTQ alliance clubs. Today, there are over 10,000 institutions registered as participants in the day of silence. All 50 states are represented in this number, as well as a number of other countries, including Singapore and New Zealand. Day of Silence continues to grow, as more and more people become aware of the issues facing LGBTQ youth.

Day of Silence timeline

2008
Remembering Larry King

This year’s Day of Silence was held in the memory of Larry King, a 15-year-old boy who was shot by a classmate over his sexual identity.

2008
Participation grows

More than 8,000 students take the vow of silence, according to GLSEN.

2000
Joining the network

GLSEN lends its official support to the day, giving it a significant boost in visibility and participation.

1996
Year one

Maria Pulzetti and fellow students at the University of Virginia create the day, hoping to draw attention to LGBTQ issues on campus.

Day of Silence - Survey Results

Data gathered by a top San Francisco Marketing Agency

THE MAJORITY OF AMERICANS STAND IN SOLIDARITY WITH THEIR LGBTQ* PEERS
78% of Americans who identify as straight believe that marriage should not be limited to between a man and a woman. 26% of straight Americans consider it important to teach youth tolerance. 4% plan to take a vow of silence in support of Day of Silence. 

Day of Silence FAQs

Will I get in trouble for participating?

Make sure to check with your school or employer first, but you should be ok to take the vow as long as they have a heads-up.

Where can I find other participants?

Check in with your school’s GSA, or look for GLSEN chapters in your area. They will direct you further in how to participate in a group.

Will this help?

One day alone won’t solve this problem, but you can certainly be a part of the solution. Promoting conversation and awareness of this issue is a big step in working on these issues.

How to Observe Day of Silence

  1. Take the Vow

    After all, this is the whole point, right? Spending the day in silence draws attention to these pressing issues, and may invite productive conversation with work or school mates.

  2. Organize others

    A movement is always more powerful with numbers. Encourage your friends to participate with you, and make the silence that much louder.

  3. Read up on LGBTQ issues

    Educate yourself — that way, once you can speak again, you can educate others who may be curious about your vow and why you took it.

5 LGBTQ Facts

  1. 42%

    42% of people who identify as LGBTQ report feeling unwelcome in their environment.

  2. Need for a safe space

    Over half of LGBTQ students say they feel unsafe in school.

  3. Twice as likely

    LQBTQ youth are twice as likely as their straight peers to experience physical harassment and bullying.

  4. Almost 100%

    92% of LGBTQ youth report receiving negative messages about their sexuality and identity.

  5. Optimism

    77% percent of LGBTQ youth are optimistic that these things will improve.

Why Day of Silence is Important

  1. It draws attention to a very important issue

    LGBTQ bullying is an epidemic in our schools. This is an excellent way to promote awareness and discussion of this issue.

  2. Anyone can participate

    It’s easy to participate in Day of Silence — don’t talk. This is a movement almost anyone can experience, no picket signs required.

  3. It’s growing all the time

    Starting in 1996 on just one college campus, the movement has spread to over 10,000 institutions. Become part of something that’s growing all the time.

Day of Silence dates

YearDateDay
2021April 9Friday
2022April 8Friday
2023April 14Friday
2024April 12Friday
2025April 11Friday