My name is Paige and I go to school in St. Charles, IL. Last year, my school’s GSA decided to participate in GLSEN’s Day of Silence because we believed that it sent a very important message about the oppression that the LGBTQ+ community faces every day. We wanted to publicize the event in our school with posters and PA system announcements because we believed that anyone in our school not involved with the club should have a right to participate as well—but our administration wouldn’t allow it. They claimed that the event would be a “disruption to education”. As a club, we completely disagreed. The Day of Silence in itself is a day meant to be educational; it’s an opportunity to educate people about the real harm caused by anti-LGBTQ bullying in schools.
“This year, my GSA plans to participate in the Day of Silence again, and this time we plan on publicizing the event with the posters and PA announcements that we were denied last year.”
So, I contacted Lambda Legal and spoke with their attorneys and help desk specialists. It was already the day before the Day of Silence, so there wasn’t much we could do, but we just wanted to be able to use the PA system to make an announcement in the morning explaining the day and how people would be participating. I was lucky enough to work with Graciela and Christopher, who put together a letter explaining to my administration how their refusal to let us publicize with posters and/or the PA system was wrong and illegal, which they sent directly to the school. When I went into school the next day and asked to make an announcement, the administration had already written one and had plans to have it read with all of the other morning announcements. Having this helped enormously, and we received lots of positive feedback from the staff and the other students.
“It felt amazing to be able to stand up for ourselves and win; to show that we have a voice and will not allow ourselves to be treated unfairly.”
This year, my GSA plans to participate in the Day of Silence again, and this time we plan on publicizing the event with the posters and PA announcements that we were denied last year. Last year, we made our point—we weren’t going to let our rights be infringed upon because of unjust prejudice. This year we expect to receive a warm reception. It felt amazing to be able to stand up for ourselves and win; to show that we have a voice and will not allow ourselves to be treated unfairly. Myself and the rest of my school’s GSA are extremely grateful to Lambda Legal for helping us to be able to achieve that.
If you need more information about students’ rights in school, visit www.lambdalegal.org/know-your-rights/youth. If you have any questions, have been discriminated against, or know others who have been discriminated against based on Day of Silence or because of sexual orientation or gender identity contact Lambda Legal’s Help Desk at 1-866-542-8336 or www.dayofsilence.org/legalhelp.