Day of Silence

Toph's picture

I feel kinda nerdish for making a big fuss about the Day of Silence. I'm excited, but scared about it. To get to the point, I'm hoping to organize the first ever DOS at my high school. We don't have a GSA, but we have students interested in forming one. The counselor that is guiding us in requesting a GSA will be the one i will talk to about the Day of Silence. I need to convince her and my principal to let us organize this event. I'm even hoping to get my friends in Middle School to request the even there too. First, please read this request letter to the principal, and I need your input.

Mr. (principal's name):

Have you ever heard of the Day of Silence? It is a student-led event that protests anti-lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender bullying, harassment, and name-calling. It was created by former student Maria Pulzetti, and the first event was organized by students at the University of Virginia in 1996. The following year Pulzetti and Jessie Gilliam developed the project to be used in schools nationally. The event was named the National Day of Silence, and nearly 100 colleges and universities participated. In 2000, Gilliam Palenchar of the GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network) developed the proposal for the day to become an official project of GLSEN. In recent years, the Day of Silence has been reported as "the largest one-day student-led grassroots action on LGBT rights in American history." Now, (town's name) students want to be part of that history.

The national event is held on a Wednesday in April; this year’s Day Of Silence is April 18th. Students wish to participate in this event to show their support for their queer or questioning peers. For the times they couldn’t say what they felt for fear of rejection. For those who can’t speak out against the name-calling. For each time someone uses the phrase “that’s gay” to describe something negative. Students will be taking a stand by taking a vow of silence to represent the silence faced by queer youth and their allies everyday. On the Day of Silence, rather than speaking, participants hand out “speaking cards” explaining their reasons for remaining silent throughout the day. The vow ends at the end of the school day, but that doesn’t mean our actions won’t leave a lasting effect.

I hope that you will support the students in this event. The Day of Silence is an opportunity for students to take the initiative to teach one another about diversity, respect, and safety for all students. Students gain leadership skills, provide a valuable service to the school community, and empower themselves by realizing their ability to make a difference in their school. Please take this proposal into deep consideration. When the school rejects your requests of acceptance, where else can a student turn to?

Thank you for taking the time to hear my proposal.

Well, that's the letter I'm hoping to present to my counselor and principal. Do you think it'll work? Is it too pushy? I really want to get this approved and organized. The only problem I feel is that the principal may say that there isn't trouble at our school, and that's partly true. Gay issues are avoided at my school. I do hear kids harassing a friend of mine because they think he's gay, but I haven't personally experienced harrassment. But, I still feel there are negative things happening that I'm not aware of.

Well, thanks for reading this. Please, input is needed. Also, if others are out there organizing and planning, tell me what you're doing. Other comments are good too, even if it's just expressing excitment

jeff's picture


I'd say, lose the foreplay, no need to go into all the history. Cut to the chase.

Also, is there a reason it is all third-persony? Like the whole second paragraph (the first, if you follow my advice to dump the history) should be written on behalf of the students in your school who wish to do DOS. "We want to participate in this event to show support for our queer or questioning peers," etc.

And if you're going to mention the cards, should probably tell him what they'll say (assuming they all read the same thing).

Personalize it. That's always better than sounding like you're cribbing text from the GLSEN site or something.


"Be like a postage stamp. Stick to one thing until you get there." -- Josh Billings.

Add me on MySpace!

Toph's picture

Well, I feel I should inform

Well, I feel I should inform him the history of DOS because everyone I ask has no idea of it is and what it's about. Also, letting him know it's something that was developed and still supported will make it sound, i dunno, more legitimate (don't know the right word to describe it)?

I like the "We" idea. But, should I have some of the students wishing to participate sign it or something? Give him a list of willing participants?

Thanks for your help Jeff.

~May the spirits guide your every assure you please her in all the right places XD

Toph's picture

I understand how you think

I understand how you think DOS is silly, but I've bent the message a little bit for a school so others will understand it better. But thanks for the advice. My letter sounds so much better and personal now, and my principal thought it was very well written :D

~May the spirits guide your every assure you please her in all the right places XD

haNa's picture

Silence = Death

I'm absolutly NOT participating in DOS. I'm going to school with a shirt that says SILENCE = DEATH and I'm gonna talk the ear off of anyone who asks me what it is. Silence ISN'T defening. And guess what, no one cares if a couple of queer kids from their school don't talk all day. No one notices negatives.


Toph's picture

Well, I kinda thought the

Well, I kinda thought the same thing at first, but I thought it through. I believe remaining silent is a way to show all the youth that have been silenced. It's a way of taking the emotional and physical silence and reflecting it for all to see and realize what has been going on.

~May the spirits guide your every assure you please her in all the right places XD

dreamers imagine someday's picture

Well...if all the LGBTA kids

Well...if all the LGBTA kids in your school were the loudest kids and were the only one to save everyone's asses in oral testing. Believe me, they notice. Every one in my school dreds DOS, because the teachers think it is a good time to ask all of the non-participators to do some oral testing, we just laugh on the inside when that happens. So our DOS get's the point accross.

V is the bomb, he blows with anarchy!!!

kartovla's picture


"YOUR SILENCE WILL NOT PROTECT YOU" -audre lorde (an awesome poet/writer/activist, and oh yea, lesbian)
the idea of organizing all us homos is great, but silence seems like whats been going on far too long, why encourage it?

"the opposite of war isnt peace, its CREATION!"

peanut_gallery's picture

I dunno... I always thought

I dunno... I always thought the point of being silent was that kids would ask why, and you could give them cards or something to let them know. It actually helped a lot with my one friend, because she started discussing gay marriage after I gave her a little explination-card. I mean, that's pretty heady stuff for a kid who doesn't have exposure to any sort of GLBT anything. If you can raise the awareness of just one person by being silent, then it's worth it.

Sidera cadentia somnos suadent.
(Aeneid 2.9)

Anonymous_user's picture

Hah, you seem to be

Hah, you seem to be homophobic?

Don't deny it.

808Chik's picture

Interesting. I can agree

Interesting. I can agree with Hana...but with all things there is always two-sides to it. I'm an not taking side because i believe and agree with both sides of DOS. Silence is a way that we can get the attention and feedback that we want from others, but silence can also hide what we're trying to say (because people don't understand how important some events are for us and are blind to the significance of our actions, which is for DOS...silence).

People, in general, always have something to say about something whether it being positive/negative. It's the way of life. Talking and Silence can get us in trouble or help us. Things work in mysterious and weird ways.

All i have to say about this is: GOOD LUCK and i hope this works out for you :D

"i am who i am, so don't judge me for being myself"

jeff's picture


Personally, I think DoS is silly, but the train has left the station, so I just try and be supportive. People seem to get something out of it, doesn't mean I have to.

This Sunday, I'm going to visit relatives and watch them eat lamb (while I enjoy something that didn't have to scream and bleed to make it to the table). They are calling it Easter, I'm calling it a family dinner. It's not impossible to find ways to honor other people's desires, even if you don't share them.


"Be like a postage stamp. Stick to one thing until you get there." -- Josh Billings.

Add me on MySpace!

wilma wonka's picture

it only works if lots of people do it

At my school it's really effective because about half of the school does it. Well, it seemed like half of my grade did it last year, I don't know the exact numbers for the rest of the school but it seemed pretty popular. it's also really noticable if teachers are being silent because they're the ones doing most of the talking anyways. People do care when most of their friends and classmates won't talk for a whole day. But you're right, if only a few people are doing it then not too many people will care.

QuakerOats's picture

There is a sample letter to

There is a sample letter to a principal at getORGANIZED, I think, or on one of those side menus. Create an account at and contact your regional student organizer for more help, or apply for the jumpstart national student leadership team at (there will be lots of info on GSA's there.) Really, do email your organizer-- they will help you network and give you resources/support/feedback-- I know because I am on the team in MD and it rocks!

maianess's picture

For me, DoS is a personal

For me, DoS is a personal thing, too, a sort of right of passage or milestone in my gayness. And if a lot of people do it, it can be really effective and really hit home.

Life is short: make fun of it.

marybeth87's picture


Hana, if you're gonna spell DEAF, spell it right.
Kartovla, you make no sense.

And, last but not least Toph. You do need to leave out some of the background like Jeff said. Stick to first person. Take out "Have you ever heard of the first day of silence?" Try and replace it with something like, " I am trying to get the Day of Silence approved at my school (ish).
Hope this helps,

cewlchic1967's picture


it really depends on what you do if you just do the one day of shutting up its not really gonna have that much effect but if you have a rally or something during lunch a day or so in advance you get the word around and you get kids psyched about it cause before the rally that i helped organize @ mah school most of the homophobs that harassed the fags in the school didnt realize how powerful we (and our lovely hetero supporters)are due to the fact that the DOS outcome was quite large at my last school(ive recently transferred). but what im saying is have fun with it i know its a serious situation but shit its a protest designed by kids and ima do the same thing this year yeah its silly but the kids love it

Laura20's picture

Im nervous about DOS, cuz

Im nervous about DOS, cuz like, i dont know how some of my teachers will react if they call on me in class, and then what do i do? but im still going to do it, I dont really think that its the best approach to some things, but im going to support people like me.