Ever since 1996, students across the country have participated in the Day of Silence in April to protest unfair treatment, harassment, and violence against LGBTQ+ students. Youth pledge to remain silent all day once a year to highlight and draw attention to the ways they are silenced through violence in schools.
This year, amidst the pandemic, GLSEN as the national Day of Silence organizer, chose to keep the event on schedule and encourage youth to stay silent online. At such a time when youth are already experiencing social distancing and are far away from many of their normal support systems; the choice to encourage youth to remain silent in the name of advocacy in schools feels tone deaf. Day of Silence Organizers had an opportunity to support youth and create something different that suits the times we are in now.
Youth have strong voices and they have the ability to tell us what they need, when they feel supported, and heard. We know that LGBTQ+ youth are struggling, many are home with unsupportive families, and many are in the closet. Asking them to remain silent in settings like these is a letdown,frustrating, and potentially dangerous to the safety of LGBTQ+ youth.
On this day of action, I would like to see, not just youth, but adults do the work.
Listen to youth and reimagine what supportive space looks like.
Listen to your students, ask them what they need, and listen. Get creative in how you check-in with LGBTQ+ youth in your life.
It is incumbent on us, as adult allies, to do the work.
Sevan Bussell (They/Them) Director of Advocacy and Education Odyssey Youth Movement Sevan@Odyssey Youth.org
Sevan Bussell (They/Them/Their) is the Director of Advocacy and Education at Odyssey Youth Movement, Spokane’s LGBTQ+ youth organization. They have been working alongside LGBTQ+ youth for 7 years and advocating for equity
To find out more about Odyssey Youth Movement, including youth Digital Drop-In and events visit our webpage at OdysseyYouth.org and our social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
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The Trevor Project: For LGBTQ+ Youth
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