Speaking Up on LGBT Day of Silence

Founded in 1996, GLSEN’s (Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network) Day of Silence is a day where students all over the world band together to make a powerful impact within their schools on the topic of LGBT bullying and harassment.

Led by our new GSA, Baker students participated in the Day of Silence in a variety of age-appropriate ways on April 15, with many taking a day-long vow of silence to symbolically represent the silencing of LGBT students and their supporters.

[Baker parents, see more photos at Vidigami!]

Pre-Kindergarten with Ms. Angres:

“We began the day by gathering on the rug to reflect on the discussion we had with Mira and Julia, the middle school GSA allies who visited our classroom last week. We decided that we would remain silent for one minute. The children were very proud to participate and support their friends. When we were lining up for music class we talked about how important it was for us to be quiet in the hallways, especially the top floor, in order to be respectful to the middle schoolers and the Day of Silence.”

First and Second Grade Tech with Ms. Crawford:

“Yesterday I spoke with these classes, explaining that I would be silent during class today because I am standing up for people who have been treated badly. I told them also what we would be doing in class today so they could start thinking about it ahead of time. When they arrived for class, students read written instructions I had set up on the projector, and sometimes received verbal instructions from their associate teachers. The children used KidPix to draw digital pictures of them standing up for a friend or supporting a friend in some way. We printed out the pictures and took a group photo with them.”

Second Grade with Mrs. Rothschild:

“Friday’s Day of Silence was an opportunity for 2A students to reflect on what it means to be a good friend. In our class, standing up for one another means many things: helping a friend who has fallen on the playground, welcoming each other into games, or speaking up for a friend who is being teased. We congratulate the whole class for holding a minute of silence on Friday and we give kudos, as well, to others who were silent for longer stretches of the day.”

Third Grade with Mrs. Gehrig:

“Social justice and speaking up for anyone being bullied is a consistent message in my class. Nonetheless, all my students could imagine not being heard or the terrible sensation of having to hide a part of yourself or not talk about something important to you. I spoke about it before two middle school students came to speak about why they were participating. I suggested to my class that we could try it for a part of the day if they were interested and wrote a detailed message for their parents. I was amazed and pleasantly surprised that 100 percent of 3A students arrived on Friday enthusiastically ready to participate. Somehow, this noisy, boisterous, social class managed to maintain silence until lunch time. They spent time writing in their journals about why they were participating in the Day of Silence and whether and why it was hard to do. I wanted to determine if they truly understood why they were doing it. Based on their responses, they did! I think this proves that students of all ages can protest injustice. It also proves that sometimes the loudest voice is silent protest.”

Fourth Grade with Mrs. Rampey:

“Our students were passionate about the Day of Silence as soon as it came up around the school. Not only do some students have personal reasons for wanting to stay silent throughout the day, but almost everyone in the class understood that it was important to stand up to those who are being bullied in any way. Students chose which portion of the day they wanted to participate, and almost everyone who did was able to stay quiet (if not silent) all day long. I was very proud of our kids’ commitment to this day!”

Fifth Grade with Ms. Sandler and Ms. Deuble:

“Middle school students from the GSA did a wonderful job of explaining to the fifth-graders the Day of Silence. We had a great discussion about what it means to be an ‘ally.’ We were truly amazed by the thoughtful participation of every 5A student Friday and enjoyed discussing how the day was impactful for them the following Monday.”

Seventh-Grade Science:

“Most science students in Section 7-2 chose to be silent during class. Students participated in a physics lesson by watching a demonstration, listening, and writing responses independently. They respected variations in others’ choices about ways of participating or choices not to participate. Some students decided to write on the board or put sticky notes on a diagram on the board in order to share their perspectives about academic content without speaking. At the end of class, I said to students that they likely missed our rich discussions in small groups and in the full class and that they likely also missed hearing one another’s voices at a human level. This is a way of witnessing or experiencing to some extent the loss that occurs when LGBTQ students or allies feel unsafe in school and cannot share their voices as they would otherwise.”