by Justin Tanis | Today is the Day of Silence, when hundreds of thousands of students around the country make a pledge to stay silent in order to draw attention to the harassment and bullying that LGBT students face. Sponsored by the Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network (GLSEN) since 2001, the action signifies the ways in which the voices of LGBT students are silenced through harassment and invisibility. Youth organize Day of Silence events in their schools or participate as individuals.
Out & Equal is passionate about the need to end the anti-LGBT bullying that continues to take place in our nation’s schools. Every child deserves—and has a right to—an education in a safe and positive environment where they are free to learn and develop. Far too often, prejudice from fellow students, as well as teachers and administrators, interferes with LGBT students’ ability to learn. It can be almost impossible to concentrate on school work when faced with dangerous bullying, vicious name-calling, or continual taunts. And it is unthinkable, but unfortunately often a reality, that the educators who work in our schools stand by and ignore the bullying when it happens and sometimes even participate in it.
Getting an education is a vital key to economic well-being. We need young people to be able to succeed at their education so that they can become the innovators and builders of tomorrow. If businesses are going to hire diverse and vibrant employees, they need LGBT students to stay in school and learn. The students’ witness today about the need to end bullying reminds all of us of our responsibility to do our part as well.