Day of Silence Speaks Volumes


One day, every year, students wear duct tape over their mouths in silent protest. For some, it may seem to be a stunt, but it’s actually a movement that sweeps the nation in middle schools, high schools, and colleges, known as the Day of Silence.

Day of Silence is a day of action created by the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) in 1996. This protest, which takes place this year on April 11th, represents “silence to call attention to the silencing effect of anti-LGBT bullying and harassment in schools,” according to the official Day of Silence website. Students in colleges and schools nationally participate in a silent vigil – some simply remaining silent, and some taking a more powerful approach with a strip of duct tape on their faces.

One of the largest controversies of the Day of Silence is the students’ constitutional rights and how this protest is protected. The Lambda Legal states, “Under the Constitution, public schools must respect students’ right to free speech. The right to speak includes the right not to speak, as well as the right to wear buttons or T-shirts expressing support for a cause.” However, if a teacher asks a student to speak as part of a class participation grade, the student then must speak or has to accept a zero.

GLSEN is an organization that fights for the recognition and safety of LGBT youth in schools, with programs such as ThinkB4YouSpeak, which focuses on defeating derogatory terms like “that’s so gay,” and Change the Game, which helps LGBT athletes feel safer in locker rooms and gyms.

The Day of Silence may be a vigil, but its silence speaks volumes.