Celebrating the 2024 Day of (No) Silence

By Faith Monahan ‘24

News Editor

Last Friday, April 15 was the annual Day of (No) Silence which seeks to increase the visibility of bullying and harassment faced by LGBTQ+ students at all levels of education. The Day of Silence first began as a protest activity started by students at the University of Virginia in 1996 to combat bullying and harassment faced by LGBTQ+ students. The day is now utilized for the purpose of taking action to advocate at schools across the country at different educational levels, and it is one of the most common events organized by student gender and sexuality alliances. In states that have passed or have introduced bills targeting issues of sexuality and gender in education, the day has gained greater significance. 

The Day of Silence originally consisted of a silent protest throughout the entire school day to represent untold stories of bullying. Today, the Day of (No) Silence is mainly organized by the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), a human rights organization that focuses on advocating for LGBTQ+ issues, and it has increasingly focused on becoming a day of action. Although the event has continued to prioritize increased action and advocacy over issues, staying silent is also an option for those who would like to participate. This year, GLSEN is encouraging participants to focus on taking action against state level legislative bills that target LGBTQ+ rights and have increased in frequency over the past two years. 

The Day of (No) Silence is of particular importance to school districts in states that have recently introduced or passed legislation against LGBTQ+ rights such as Florida. Last month, Governor Ron DeSantis’s Parental Rights in Education bill, or more commonly known as the Don’t Say Gay bill, was challenged in a lawsuit brought forth by civil rights attorneys in the state. The ruling clarified the scope of the law, permitting educators to discuss topics related to sexual orientation or gender, but not as a part of formal instruction. The settlement also required the Florida Education Board to inform its school districts that the law cannot be used to prevent anti bullying policies or student gay-straight alliances. States with similar legislation in place to limit classroom instruction surrounding sexual orientation and gender include Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky and North Carolina. 

In 2023, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) tracked 510 bills introduced during the legislative session across the United States. So far in 2024, the ACLU has tracked over 480 bills that the organization considers to present challenges to LGBTQ+ rights as evaluated by its legal staff. No bills challenging LGBTQ+ rights have been introduced during the 2024 legislative session in CT according to the ACLU. 

Public school districts across the U.S. have the option to publicly support and sponsor the event. In Connecticut, school districts such as Mansfield have added the date to their public calendar. Also on Friday, members of Congress introduced a resolution titled Rise Up for LGBTQ+ Youth in Schools Initiative coinciding with the Day of Silence.

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