The 25th annual LGBTQ Day of Silence protest goes entirely virtual. Here's how to join.

Since the 1990s, youth across the country have participated in the Day of Silence, like those pictured here at a Philadelphia demonstration. Image: GLSEN By Natasha Piñon2020-04-24 17:53:25 UTC How do you organize a demonstration all about...

The 25th annual LGBTQ Day of Silence protest goes entirely virtual. Here's how to join.
Since the 1990s, youth across the country have participated in the Day of Silence, like those pictured here at a Philadelphia demonstration.
Since the 1990s, youth across the country have participated in the Day of Silence, like those pictured here at a Philadelphia demonstration.
Image: GLSEN

How do you organize a demonstration all about silence ... on the internet? 

It's a question that organizers for the Day of Silence, an annual student-led protest in which LGBTQ students and allies vow to not speak throughout a school day to protest the erasure of LGBTQ representation in curriculums and the verbal harassment of LGBTQ students, have had to quickly figure out as the coronavirus pandemic shuttered schools around the country. 

The solution has arrived: On April 24, the 25th annual Day of Silence is being conducted entirely online. Rather than vowing silence at school, those who wish to participate are now encouraged by GLSEN, the LGBTQ advocacy organization that has organized the demonstration since the 1990s, to take a variety of online actions to raise awareness for the challenges LGBTQ students face at school. 

There are a number of planned activities that those participating can be a part of: You can change your profile picture to a Day of Silence graphic (which can be found here), post a video of yourself being silent with a template caption from GLSEN, and then encourage others to do the same. The template for post reads: 

Today is the 25th anniversary of Day of Silence—a national student led movement highlighting the silencing and erasure of LGBTQ people. 4 in 5 LGBTQ students don’t see positive LGBTQ representation in their curriculum, 8 in 10 experience anti-LGBTQ verbal harassment, and over a third miss school for feeling unsafe or uncomfortable. I am silent for ______. I challenge: to join me in The Day of Silence until 3:00PM #DayofSilence 

Chris Stanley, a GLSEN national student council member, and a.t. Furuya, a leader with GLSEN, hope that those participating will take extra care to think deeply about who they're being silent for this year, and then share that information on their social media channels. 

While GLSEN has provided the above templates for posts, Stanley and Furuya note that it's possible not everyone will participate in exactly the same way. That's fine with them: Even in normal times, Furuya points out that LGBTQ groups at schools typically coordinate with GLSEN to organize demonstrations that work for their own campuses, so there's never just one way to join in. 

"It's definitely special going to school and seeing students remaining silent, but solidarity can look like a lot of different things," Stanley said to Mashable via phone. "You don't have to be there in person to see that support." 

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