Allies: Speak up on the Day of Silence
By Leo Kirkham
We all remember – or for some of us, currently experience – how cruel kids can be in school. Bullying is a major problem for students who are marginalized in some way, whether it’s kids of color experiencing racism, disabled children experiencing ableism, or LGBTQ kids experiencing homophobia and transphobia.
52% of LGBTQ middle and high school students report being bullied in school or over the internet. These numbers are higher for middle schoolers (65%), transgender and nonbinary students (61%), Native and Indigenous students (70%), and multiracial students (54%).
Mistreatment by others, including bullying, is a strong and consistent risk factor for youth suicide. Youth who are bullied are three times more likely to attempt suicide. This is true whether the bullying takes place in person at school or online.
However, LGBTQ students who report that their schools are LGBTQ-affirming are less likely to be bullied, by 30% (The Trevor Project).
Started in the mid-90s by two college students, the National Day of Silence is an annual day of action to raise awareness about the effects of bullying and harassment against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer/questioning students. Students – both LGBTQ and allies – who participate in the Day of Silence spend the entire day without speaking, to represent the way that bullying and harassment silences LGBTQ youth.
What can you do to honor the Day of Silence? Speak up! LGBTQ youth need adult allies to talk to their school administrators and teachers. Attend a school board meeting and voice your support for an LGBTQ-affirming school environment and anti-harassment and anti-bullying policies. Support LGBTQ-history and inclusive sex education. Support gender-neutral bathrooms in your local schools. A great example of affirming and safe spaces are The Help Group schools and Kaleidoscope programs.
Bullying is a significant area of concern for LGBTQ youth, particularly Native youth, transgender and nonbinary youth, and middle school students. Taking action to support bullied students can save lives.
For resources and support on how to support your LGBTQ+ students and youth, please reach out to us with any questions at [email protected].