Today is the 2014 Day of Silence, an annual event sponsored by the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN) meant to protest anti-LGBTQ bullying. Students across the nation are silent for the day to raise awareness of the silencing impact of homophobic and transphobic bullying in schools.
Homophobic and transphobic bullying is an ugly reality for many LGBTQ youth. Research shows that LGBTQ youth report disproportionate rates of bullying, sexual harassment, and harsh school discipline. Lowered quality of life and negative psychological outcomes, such as depression and suicidal thoughts, are the all-too-common results.
LGBTQ youth deserve better than this. All students deserve safe, respectful school environments in which they can learn.
The Day of Silence is a thorn in the side of the Religious Right, many of whom refuse to take anti-LGBTQ bullying seriously. For example, several Religious Right groups have endorsed the Day of Silence Walkout, an event created in resistance to the Day of Silence. Also, Focus on the Family sponsors a rival event called the Day of Dialogue, which encourages students to talk about "the truth about God’s deep love for us and what the Bible really says about His redemptive design for marriage and sexuality". On the surface, the Day of Dialogue discourages bullying, but its true purpose is to enshrine binary gender and heterosexual marriage as the only legitimate expressions of gender identity and sexuality.
Anti-LGBTQ figures continue to ignore the facts, but the reality is that LGBTQ youth face an uphill battle, and we have an obligation to support them. Here's to ending homophobic and transphobia in schools and in society as a whole.