Old News: G.L.S.E.N Day of Silence

Anushka Kalra, staff reporter

On April 15, 1996, University of Virginia student Maria Pulzetti organized the first national Day of Silence to honor LGBT+ individuals. In The National magazine, Pulzetti expressed her goal was for the campaign to spread awareness among all students—not just those who were already fairly aware.

The movement went international in 1997 and schools from around the world began participating in the Day of Silence.

Despite a global outpouring of support, the LGBT+ community still experiences harassment today. According to a 2013 National School Climate survey, nearly 9 out of 10 LGBT+ people have suffered from verbal, sexual or physical harassment. Slurs in particular have been cited as the main form of discrimination.

 Discrimination laws differ between states. For example, in April, Mississippi governor Phil Bryant passed a bill that allowed businesses to turn away customers who were assumed to be LGBT+, even if the assumption was incorrect, causing backlash.

Jennifer Riley Collins of the American Civil Liberties Union of Mississippi called the passing of the bill ìa sad day for thousands of Mississippians,î in an interview with The Washington Post. In the same article, Governor Bryant called the bill a respectful nod to civil liberties and limited government intervention. Controversy has erupted over the bill.

South’s chapter of the Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) participated in the Day of Silence on April 15 to protest the Mississippi Bill and other forms of harassment that continue to plague the LGBT+ community today.

On a larger scale, the Gay Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) also offers students a way to support the LGBT+ community by formally registering their names to show their belief in the protest. On their website, GLSEN calls the protest an educational experience for all kids, especially those in high school.