Going silent.

April 17th, 2009 10:24 am by Kelly Garbato

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Today is the Day of Silence,

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.

The DOS organizers explain:

As the Day of Silence approaches we’ve been getting lots of questions and comments along two similar but distinct threads on our various websites and in our email.

1) Do I need to be silent all day? Can I communicate at all? Can I blog/tweet/facebook?

2) Being silent doesn’t help and only perpetuates the problem. We should be speaking out.

The answer to both of these is similar: being silent has been and continues to be a very powerful way to create positive dialogue around the problem of anti-LGBT bullying for many students across the country. However, each person who participates in the Day of Silence has a different way of participating.

For some, the best way to participate is by being completely silent, including not participating in online communication. For others, the best way to participate is by spending the day speaking out about the issues of LGBT bullying. Some who participate get limited approval from their schools for their participation and so can only be silent during breaks between classes. There are many ways of participation ranging from complete silence to no silence.

The point is that the DOS is a day to bring attention to the problem of anti-LGBT bullying and each person who participates must determine how they can best use, or not use, their voice to do that. If you feel you will have the deepest positive impact by remaining completely silent and have the appropriate approvals to do so then go for it. If you feel that in your situation, you can have a deeper positive impact by speaking out then that should be your way of observing. No one can make that determination but you.

Your voice, whether silent or loud, WILL make a difference this Friday and the Day of Silence will speak volumes.

The DOS isn’t just for students, however. Adults can participate as well, by signing the pledge of solidarity; speaking out against anti-LGBTQ prejudice and bullying; observing a day of silence, whatever form that may take; Tweeting about the DOS; writing about the DOS on Facebook, your blog or similar; silencing your blog; and/or wearing red or rainbow-colored clothing.

In observance of the Day of Silence, easyVegan.info will remain silent for the rest of the day. Please take this opportunity to check out the Day of Silence blog and website, and educate yourself about LGBTQ issues.

The Get Active! section of this site also features links to a number of human rights organizations, including the following:

American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) * Action Center * E-Mail Subscriptions * Lesbian & Gay Rights

Amnesty International * Action Center * E-Mail Subscriptions * OUTfront!

Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) * Action Center

Human Rights Campaign (HRC) * Action Center * E-Mail Subscriptions

People for the American Way (PFAW) * Action Center * E-Mail Subscriptions

Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN) * Action Center

Like many of you, I assume, I focus most of my energy and attention on animal advocacy issues because I believe that, generally speaking, non-human animals are the single most abused and exploited group of individuals on the planet. As such, I have the potential to make the greatest impact in this area.

Yet, it’s critical we realize that all social and environmental justice causes are equally important and in need of our support. While we may choose to concentrate on one area or issue, it’s absolutely imperative that we consciously refrain from adding to the suffering of and further marginalizing other groups in the process. This means – at the very least – making a concerted effort not to engage in sexism, racism, homophobia, transphobia, ageism, ableism, sizeism, colonialism, xenophobia, etc., in the course of our animal advocacy efforts.

Just as it’s morally wrong to mistreat and exploit non-human animals based on arbitrary criteria like species membership, so too is it morally wrong to mistreat lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered and transsexual persons due to such arbitrary criteria as sexual orientation and gender identity.

I hope you’ll join me in this day of silence and solidarity.

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Updated to add:

Immediately after posting this entry, I saw at Bitch Magazine this memorial for Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover, an 11-year-old boy from Springfield, Massachusetts, who took his own life on April 6. The suicide came after months of bullying at the hands of classmates; ‘girlie,’ ‘gay’ and ‘fag’ were just a few of the slurs hurled at Carl – who would have turned 12 today.

Please take a moment to leave an encouraging note for Carl’s family.

Words matter.

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One Response to “Going silent.”

  1. Smite Me! [.net] » Blog Archive » Going silent. Says:

    […] be extra-silent today, in observance of the Day of Silence and as per the following explanation, crossposted from […]

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