Day of Silence April 26

by Tanya Rogers

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Wednesday April 26, 2006

Approximately 500,000 students from about 4,000 schools will take part in the 10th annual National Day of Silence April 26.

The event is a project of the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network in collaboration with the United States Student Association.

"On the Day of Silence, hundreds of thousands of students across America will use silence to voice the truth about anti-LGBT bullying and harassment in America's schools," said GLSEN Founder and Executive Director Kevin Jennings. "The tremendous numbers of students who take part in the Day of Silence is cause for celebration and a loud message from America's students that we must work harder to ensure safe and effective schools for every child."

The event began at the University of Virginia in 1996. GLSEN explains that the Day of Silence "has become the largest single student-led action towards creating safer schools for all, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression."

Youth Pride, Inc., the Rhode Island GLBT advocacy group, held its third annual summit, this year at Providence College, to assist in organizing Rhode Island high schools and colleges that will participate in this year's Day of Silence. YPI also designed and sold T-shirts for students to purchase, distribute and wear.

Students, faculty and staff at Johnson and Wales University, also in Providence, are wearing YPI's designed T-shirts and remaining silent on April 26. In addition, the Johnson and Wales's CommUNITY Alliance are hosting a candle light vigil in Gaebe Commons, on Weybosset Street in Providence, at 8 p.m. Darin Wildenstein, director of public relations for the CommUNITY Alliance, explained, "promoting the nondiscrimination of people is important. We need to stop the hate crimes, so people can expose their sexuality freely and have that be a positive experience. Day of Silence is a way to create a wide spread knowledge of the issues the GLBTQ community deals with on a regular basis."

Northeastern University's Bisexual, Lesbian and Gay Association hosted the recognition of the Day of Silence on March 29, on its campus in Boston.

As posted on GLSEN's Day of Silence web page, other schools participating in the Northeast include Danville Area High School in Pennsylvania and Summit High School in New Jersey. Danville High School's GSA is hosting a Breaking the Silence Party at Brews 'n Bytes at 5 p.m. April 26. Summit High School's GSA is hosting a coffeehouse and fundraiser for AIDS and Darfur.

Visit www.dayofsilence.org for more information about future organizing, including ordering pins and T-shirts, or reporting your school's participation.

Tanya C. Rogers, a native Rhode Islander, is co-founder of Creating Organized Awareness and teaches Writing and Literature at Johnson & Wales University's Providence, RI campus.

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