April 17, 2009
Day of Silence 2009
Today marks the 13th annual Day of Silence, a day during which LGBTQ students and their allies refuse to speak (at least traditionally; as the event has grown, so have the ways to observe the day expanded — check out the list here), in order to call attention to bullying and harassment of LGBTQ youth in schools. Here’s the text from the GLSEN’s speaking cards:
Please understand my reasons for not speaking today. I am participating in the Day of Silence (DOS), a national youth movement bringing attention to the silence faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and their allies. My deliberate silence echoes that silence, which is caused by anti-LGBT bullying, name-calling and harassment. I believe that ending the silence is the first step toward building awareness and making a commitment to address these injustices. Think about the voices you are not hearing today.
Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover would have turned 12 today. Earlier this month he hanged himself, after being subjected to anti-gay bullying since the start of the school year. His case is an indicator of the extent to which anti-LGBTQ bullying can affect students beyond those who openly identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or trans:
[Carl’s mother, Sirdeaner] Walker said her son had been the victim of bullying since the beginning of the school year, and that she had been calling the school since September, complaining that her son was mercilessly teased. He played football, baseball, and was a boy scout, but a group of classmates called him gay and teased him about the way he dressed. They ridiculed him for going to church with his mother and for volunteering locally.
“It’s not just a gay issue,” Walker said. “It’s bigger. He was 11 years old, and he wasn’t aware of his sexuality. These homophobic people attach derogatory terms to a child who’s 11 years old, who goes to church, school, and the library, and he becomes confused. He thinks, Maybe I’m like this. Maybe I’m not. What do I do?“
Today my heart goes out to Carl, his family, and to everyone else affected by anti-LGBTQ bullying, harrassment, and violence.