GLSEN ‘Day of Silence’ to culminate in virtual rally

The 25th annual Day of Silence will end with a virtual rally on Friday, April 24 (Image courtesy of GLSEN)

With the COVID-19 pandemic preventing public gatherings and
events, LGBTQ activist organizations have been forced to rethink their traditional
strategies for raising public awareness about the many other important issues impacting
the community.

One such organization, GLSEN, is planning a new approach to an
event that has been an annual touchstone for LGBTQ young people for 25 years. On
April 24th,

GLSEN, the nation’s leading organization on LGBTQ issues in
K-12 education, will be hosting the 25th
annual Day of Silence
on Friday, April 24. A student-led protest of the
silencing and erasure of LGBTQ people, last year’s Day of Silence engaged
nearly 8,000 GSA clubs across the country.

This year, Day of Silence faces the challenge of school closures
due to the COVID shutdown, which leaves many young LGBTQ people particularly
vulnerable. With GLSEN unable to work within the school setting, protest organizers
are instead doubling down on the use of social media campaigns, virtual
meetings, artwork, videos and resource guides to connect and empower these
at-risk individuals, and they expect the virtual rally, which will close out Friday’s
day of protest, to be the largest-ever online gathering of LGBTQ youth.

“For 25 years, the Day of Silence has helped thousands of
students connect to their community, but with the COVID-19 pandemic isolating
many LGBTQ youth from their support networks, this year’s Day of Silence is
more important than ever,” saidGLSEN Executive Director Eliza Byard.
“It’s time for LGBTQ youth to live free of harassment and discrimination, and
to feel empowered to break the silence, today, and every day.”

Image courtesy of GLSEN

According to GLSEN, four out of 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. Exacerbating the issue, many of the most vulnerable LGBTQ
students are unable to connect to their school communities due to lack of
access to appropriate technology.

One of the main talking points of this year’s protest, GLSEN
insists, is that “plans to rebuild and reopen schools” after the current crisis
“must address these inequities and make our schools safer and more affirming
for LGBTQ students.”

Chris Staley, a high school student on GLSEN’s National
Student Council, says, “By participating in the Day of Silence, LGBTQ students
like me are advocating for our community and building a more inclusive future
for all young people. This year, we’re using social media, creating artwork,
hosting virtual rallies and encouraging our family and friends to join us as we
fight for our rights and representation.”

The online day of protest will culminate in a national
virtual rally to break the silence, featuring celebrity and activist speakers. Last
year, celebrities including Laverne Cox, Ellen DeGeneres, Julia Roberts, Kerry
Washington and many more voiced their support for Day of Silence.

Jessica Chiriboga, a high school senior from Glendora who is
a 2nd year member of the Council, lays out the strategy for Day of Silence by
professing her own plans for the day:

an individual, I will change my profile picture to a Day of Silence graphic on
Wednesday, and physically stay silent from 12 am on Friday to 2:30 pm. At 2:30
pm., I’ll be tuning in to the GLSEN Facebook Live to break my vow of silence

Vice President of Glendora High’s GSA (Gender-Sexuality Alliance), I will send
out ways to participate (like sharing Day of Silence graphics, challenging
friends to join) by the hour. What I’m most excited for is that we are planning
to have an Open Mic Creative share for our GSA members followed by a screening
of a LGBTQ+ movie!

these virtual events, I plan on encouraging members to register to vote, as
students can do that at 16 in California. Using our voices and our votes are
important in breaking the silence around the bullying and harassment of LGBTQ+
youth, and seeing each others’ faces will help our members feel a little more

This year’s Day of Silence theme is “Shaping Our Future” and
GLSEN’s virtual rally will kick off a campaign to register and pre-register
LGBTQ students to vote. Information about the campaign, running until the fall,
can be found at

Published at Fri, 24 Apr 2020 00:45:33 +0000