This is the Clay Aiken News Network, however, the following blog does not mention his name. Nevertheless, I do believe that Clay Aiken was aware of the following activity and was interested in the results of the day. One thing we all know is that Clay Aiken stands up for the rights of all people and is not afraid to speak up for anyone he feels needs support.
On April 16, thousands of university and high school students attended classes without a word. There was no socializing in hallways or the quad, no joking in the cafeteria, no speaking in classrooms. When asked why they remain silent, their only response was a card explaining the national Day of Silence, now in its 14th year.
The Day brings attention to the silence endured by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students faced with regular bullying and harassment in school. The card explains that students’;
“deliberate silence echoes that silence, which is caused by name-calling, bullying and harassment.”
The solution: “Ending the silence is the first step toward fighting these injustices.”
The event has become the largest student-led action addressing school safety for all students, regardless of gender, sexual orientation or race. The day began in 1996 at the University of Virginia. Created by an undergraduate student, the event was designed to be visible on campus and to draw in straight allies.
The first Day of Silence was a small success, garnering some positive press attention. The next year the event grew to include 200 UVA students and more than 100 colleges and universities across the US. Two years later, high schools became involved, and in 2000 the Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network (GLSEN) became the official sponsor of the event. In 2008 over 8,000 high schools, colleges and universities took part in the action.
Participating students are both gay and straight. Their silence seeks to raise an awareness of the harassment and bullying that many LGBT students face daily from their peers. It is not only LGBT students who are being abused, a fact that GLSEN also wants to bring awareness to this year. In 2009, 11-year-old Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover hanged himself because of peers who harassed him, calling him gay even though he was straight. On the 2009 Day of Silence Carl would have turned 12.
GLSEN Executive Director Eliza Byard said:
“As was the case with Carl, you do not have to identify as gay to be attacked with anti-LGBT language. From their earliest years on the school playground, students learn to use anti-LGBT language as the ultimate weapon to degrade their peers.”
The Day of Silence helps all schools by providing resources to schools on how they can take simple steps to stop harassment within their own walls. Information is provided about adopting an anti-bullying policy, curriculum that addresses LGBT issues and tolerance and training teachers and staff to better deal with bullying when they see it.
Last year, just a few days before the Day of Silence, actor Ashton Kutcher challenged Twitter users to make him the first person to get one million followers. He was trying to beat out CNN each had over 900,000 people following them. Around 1:00am on the Day of Silence Kutcher got to the million mark ahead of CNN. As luck would have it, that Friday was also the day Oprah had planned to do her first tweet.
Wow, tough competition! And to make it even harder, Oprah had Kutcher as a guest on her show and they tweeted together. Darn.
So what happened? Well, by the midday on DOS last April 17th the rankings were, Oprah #1, Kutcher #2 and Day of Silence #3.
By the end of the day, the official Follow Friday ranking was Kutcher #1, Oprah #2 and Day of Silence held strong at #3!
This year, the goal was to be Number 1! The numbers are not in yet, but it will be interesting to see the results.
Unfortunately, a day like this doesn’t come without its critics. Several family advocacy groups say the Day of Silence is politicizing the classroom and indoctrinating students. One of the most outspoken groups is the American Family Association, who called on parents to pull their children from school on the Day of Silence, apparently in support of bullying and harassment. A coalition of groups support the Day of Silence “walk-out.” Exodus International, a religious organization that supports “conversion therapy,” has organized the first, counter Day of Truth on the day after the Day of Silence. Their slogan is “Get The Conversation Started” about biblical sexuality.
To find out more about the Day of Silence and how you can help, visit GLSEN’s Day of Silence website.