Day of Silence: April 26, 2006 - U2 Feedback

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Old 04-26-2006, 01:17 PM   #1
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Old 04-26-2006, 01:23 PM   #2
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Old 04-26-2006, 01:33 PM   #3
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Quote:
Silence is part of speaking up

By Brent Hartinger
Advocate.com, April 25, 2006


People joke these days that the Love That Dare Not Speak Its Name has become The Love That Won’t Shut Up. Gay and lesbian Americans and their allies are finally making themselves heard. Even in some high schools.

It wasn’t always this way. I first joined the gay youth movement back in 1989, when I helped establish Oasis, a Tacoma support group for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender youths. Only one of our 150 members was “out” at school, and he was receiving death threats.

I knew of no openly gay teachers or administrators. But even then, the teenagers I worked with yearned to be open and honest about who they were. Heterosexuals often ask me why gay teenagers would want to talk about their sexuality in the first place. “Their wanting to talk about sex is just another form of rebellion, right?”

But being openly gay doesn’t mean rebellion, and it isn’t talking about sex. It just means no longer maintaining the elaborate ruse of pretending to be straight. I always ask heterosexuals to imagine their teen years if they had had to hide the fact that they were straight. That means no talking about which pop star you thought was cute and definitely no idealized night at the prom. You might have had to date someone you’re not emotionally attracted to, even becoming sexually active in order to keep your lie intact. In other words, being a closeted gay or lesbian teenager means being silent. And for someone who is itching to forge a self-identity, as all teenagers are, this is a very frustrating way to live.

In 1996 some gay and straight students at the University of Virginia created the Day of Silence—going a whole school day without speaking—to protest the silence of most gay students and teachers and the fact that most school curriculums ignored the contributions of gays and lesbians in history and literature. Since then, the protest has mushroomed. This year, on Wednesday [April 26], an estimated 500,000 gay and straight students from at least 4,000 schools, will participate in what is now called the National Day of Silence.
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365Gay.com

As students across the country button their lips today marking the 10th annual National Day of Silence to draw awareness to homophobia in classrooms, a new study shows that gay-bashing remains a major problem in the nation's schools.

Three-quarters of students surveyed across America said that over the past year they heard derogatory remarks such as "faggot" or "dyke" frequently or often at school, and nearly nine out of ten reported hearing "that's so gay" or "you're so gay" - meaning stupid or worthless - frequently or often. Over a third of students said they experienced physical harassment at school on the basis of sexual orientation, and more than a quarter on the basis of their gender expression. Nearly one-in-five students reported they had been physically assaulted because of their sexual orientation and over a tenth because of their gender expression.

The National School Climate Survey was released in Washington by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network.

The study also showed that bullying has had a negative impact on learning. LGBT students were five times more likely to report having skipped school in the last month because of safety concerns than the general population of students. Students who experience more frequent physical harassment were more likely to report they did not plan to go to college, the study found. Overall, LGBT students were twice as likely as the general population of students to report they were not planning to pursue any post-secondary education. In addition, the average GPA for LGBT students who were frequently physically harassed was half a grade lower than that of LGBT students experiencing less harassment.

"The 2005 National School Climate Survey reveals that anti-LGBT bullying and harassment remain commonplace in America's schools," said GLSEN Founder and Executive Director Kevin Jennings. "On the positive side, it also makes clear that inclusive policies, supportive school staff and student clubs, like Gay-Straight Alliances, all relate to reduced harassment and higher achieving students."

The presence of supportive staff contributed to a range of positive indicators including greater sense of safety, fewer reports of missing days of school, and a higher incidence of planning to attend college the study found. Students in schools with a GSA said they were less likely to feel unsafe, less likely to miss school, and more likely to feel like they belonged at their school than students in schools with no such clubs.

Jennings said that having a comprehensive policy was related to a lower incidence of hearing homophobic remarks and to lower rates of verbal harassment. Students at schools with inclusive policies also reported higher rates of intervention by school staff when homophobic remarks were made.

Only nine states and the District of Columbia have comprehensive anti-bullying laws that specifically address bullying and harassment based on sexual orientation and only three of these laws mention gender identity. Nine other states have "generic" anti-bullying laws that do not specifically define "bullying" or enumerate categories of protected classes such as sexual orientation or gender identity. The remaining 32 states have no laws at all.
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Old 04-26-2006, 01:35 PM   #4
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Old 04-26-2006, 01:35 PM   #5
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[q]But being openly gay doesn’t mean rebellion, and it isn’t talking about sex. It just means no longer maintaining the elaborate ruse of pretending to be straight. I always ask heterosexuals to imagine their teen years if they had had to hide the fact that they were straight. That means no talking about which pop star you thought was cute and definitely no idealized night at the prom. You might have had to date someone you’re not emotionally attracted to, even becoming sexually active in order to keep your lie intact. In other words, being a closeted gay or lesbian teenager means being silent. And for someone who is itching to forge a self-identity, as all teenagers are, this is a very frustrating way to live.
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Old 04-26-2006, 05:07 PM   #6
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Old 04-26-2006, 07:49 PM   #7
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