Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Day of Silence®?
The Day of Silence is a student-led national event that brings attention to anti-LGBT name-calling, bullying and harassment in schools. Students from middle school to college take some form of a vow of silence in an effort to encourage schools and classmates to address the problem of anti-LGBT behavior. The event is designed to illustrate the silencing effect of this bullying and harassment on LGBT students and those perceived to be LGBT.
What is GLSEN®?
GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, is the leading national
education organization focused on ensuring safe schools for all students.
Established nationally in 1995, GLSEN envisions a world in which every child
learns to respect and accept all people, regardless of sexual orientation or
gender identity/expression. For more information on GLSENís educational
resources, public policy agenda, student organizing programs, research,
public education or development initiatives, visit www.glsen.org
Who started the Day of Silence?
In 1996, students at the University of Virginia organized the first
Day of Silence in response to a class assignment on non-violent
protests. Over 150 students participated in this inaugural DOS.
In 1997, organizers took their effort nationally and nearly 100
colleges and universities participated. In 2001, GLSEN became the
official organizational sponsor for the event.
Has the Day of Silence been successful?
In 2008, hundreds of thousands of students from more than 8,000 K-12 schools,
colleges and universities organized Day of Silence events. These
numbers make the Day of Silence one of the largest student-led actions
in the United States. The event has drawn significant attention
to LGBT issues in schools over the years. For example, GLSEN spokespersons
have appeared on national media outlets and there has always been
extensive local media coverage from coast to coast, with numerous
interviews with students.
Why do we need a Day of Silence?
Two of the top three reasons students said their peers were most often bullied at school were actual or perceived sexual orientation and gender expression, according to From Teasing to Torment: School Climate in America, a 2005 report by GLSEN and Harris Interactive.
GLSENís 2007 National School Climate Survey found that nearly 9 out of 10 LGBT students report verbal, sexual or physical harassment at school and more than 30% report missing at least a day of school in the past month out of fear for their personal safety. The Day of Silence helps bring us closer to making anti-LGBT bullying, harassment and name-calling unacceptable in Americaís schools. For more information
see: ‘How To Get What You Want With An Ask’ [PDF]
I'm in middle school. Can I organize a Day of Silence at
The Day of Silence can logistically be organized in any school,
public or private, middle school, high school or college. However,
in middle and high schools, getting support from the school administration
is critical. Students should not assume that administrators would
not support their efforts--even if they have not supported LGBT
issues in the past--because it's always important to ask and provide
information to win support. Read more about getting administrative
support in the Day of Silence Organizing Manual [PDF].
Do I have a right to participate in the Day of Silence?
You DO have a right to participate in Day of Silence and other expressions of your opinion at a public school during non-instructional time: the breaks between classes, before and after the school day, lunchtime, and any other free times during your day. You do NOT have a right to remain silent during class time if a teacher asks you to speak. We recommend that you talk to your teachers ahead of time, tell them what you plan to do, and ask them if it would be okay for you to communicate on that day in writing. (ACLU)
How do the Day of Silence activities affect the school day?
GLSEN advises students interested in participating to discuss their intentions
with their administration and teachers long before the event. The day is most
successful when schools and students work together to show their commitment to
ensuring safe schools for all students. Many schools allow studentsí participation
throughout the day. Some schools ask students to speak as they normally would during
class and remain silent during breaks and at lunch. There is no single way to participate,
and students are encouraged to take part in the way that is the most positive and uplifting
for their school. Students may also participate in “Breaking the Silence” rallies,
events at which students come together at the day’s end to
express themselves and share their experiences with members of their
What other things can I do to create an effective Day of
An important part of the Day of Silence is creating educational
opportunities before and/or after the event. Many people will be
affected by this event, and will want to know more about the silence
LGBT people and their allies face. Good follow-up events include:
workshops, speakers, entertainment, or any other venue for evaluation,
education, and discussion.
I want to help organize this regionally and nationally.
What can I do?
Great! There are several ways you can become more involved. The
first step is simply signing-up for the day of silence on www.dayofsilence.org.
Next you can contact a local student organizer (on the www.studentorganizing.org
home page under the yellow tab "get support") and inform
them of all you’re doing locally. They can help you do more
in your city, state or region, and become more connected.
Why should I register?
GLSEN encourages participants to register and be counted. In order to promote the Day of Silenceís positive impact, we need to know how many people participate. Many critics wish to downplay the number of people who support addressing the problem of anti-LGBT name-calling, bullying and harassment. By registering, you are helping us prove that this is an important issue that needs to be addressed.
Register here and be counted!
Can you send my school a packet of materials for the Day
Certainly! Simply register online at www.dayofsilence.org and we’ll
happily add you to our mailing list to receive resources and support.
What happens if my school doesn't support the effort?
GLSEN advises all students to secure school permission for the event.
We believe that such support is critical for many reasons. We encourage
students in those schools where support is unlikely to build campaigns
to try and secure that support or work with their administration
on compromises of activities the school will allow. We also encourage
students to identify events and ways to participate outside of the
If your administration
does not support an official Day of Silence event there are alternative
activities that you can engage in. Please refer to: “Tips for
the Last Minute Organizer or Those Whose Administration Has Said
Does the work end after the day is over?
The Day of Silence is one element of a larger effort to create safe
schools for all students regardless of sexual orientation and gender
identity/expression. Many communities, in addition to supporting
the Day of Silence, host Breaking The Silence events, rallies, legislative
lobby days, performances and more – both on the Day of Silence
and all year round. We are also asking our national leaders to support
policies that create safe schools for all. Many communities are
asking their local and state leaders to support and implement similar
policies. You can get connected to an ongoing national effort by
registering your GSA with GLSEN at www.studentorganizing.org.
What do you have to say about potential opponents to the
Day of Silence?
The issue at hand is the bullying, harassment, name-calling and
violence that students see and face in our schools. The Day of Silence
is an activity created and led by students to educate their peers
and bring an end to this harassment.
We look forward
to engaging all organizations and individuals who share The Day
of Silence vision of schools free from anti-LGBT name-calling, bullying
Those who do
not support the Day of Silence often protest, but rarely contribute
positively to finding ways to end anti-LGBT harassment. Some individuals
and groups organize events in response to the Day of Silence. These
events grossly mischaracterize or simply misunderstand the basic
purpose of the Day of Silence. Bringing attention to these events
only adds a false credibility to their misinformation about the
Day of Silence, GLSEN and the thousands of American students taking
action on April 17th. If you face hostile students or organizations
in your school on the Day of Silence remember to remain calm. We
encourage you to not get into a debate, make gestures, and certainly
not to get into a physical altercation. If you continue to be harassed,
we encourage you to contact your GSA advisor or other ally school
like to make a donation, how can I do it?
Contributions are greatly appreciated. You can support the Day of
Silence by making your donation to the project’s organizer,
the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN). For more
information on how to make a donation visit GLSEN’s website:
questions? Ask the Day of Silence Facebook community! Click here.