Task Force Commemorates GLSEN’s Annual Day of Silence
GLSEN Event Highlights Anti-Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Bias in Schools; Asks Students to Take Day-Long Vow of Silence
Roberta Sklar, Director of Communications
Task Force Policy Institute Cites Increasing Challenges Faced by LGBT Youth
Matt Foreman, Executive Director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, says the anti-gay industry and the Bush administration’s escalating anti-gay legislative efforts generate bigotry; salutes American students who stand with LGBT classmates against homophobia
NEW YORK, April 13, 2005 — The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force commemorates Day of Silence 2005, the Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network (GLSEN) nationwide school event taking place today supporting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) youth. Now in its ninth year, Day of Silence invites students across America to take a day-long vow of silence in solidarity with LGBT and straight classmates who are silenced by homophobia on a daily basis.
"All lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans face greater danger today than ever before, thanks to the discriminatory climate fostered by the anti-gay industry and the anti-gay legislative efforts of the Bush administration," said Matt Foreman, Executive Director of the Task Force. "Americans are experiencing a daily barrage of biased misinformation generated by right-wing think tanks and so called 'faith-based' organizations. The vulnerability of LGBT youth in this hostile environment is especially troubling. We salute GLSEN and the students participating in its annual Day of Silence protests, which will go far to educate students and lay the foundation for greater compassion for generations to come."
"Anti-gay organizations declare themselves to be pro-family," said Rea Carey, Deputy Executive Director of the Task Force. "In reality their rhetoric is filled with hate. What is pro-family about a rhetoric of hate? Spreading hate through misinformation and lies has serious consequences. Whether with words or with fists, gay-bashing destroys young lives. The cycle must stop. GLSEN's Day of Silence is a crucial step toward reversing this trend."
According to the Task Force Policy Institute's "Education Policy: Issues Affecting LGBT Youth" report of 2003, violence and harassment against the LGBT community's youth continues to grow. Fortunately, in response to this violence, a number of states have created legislation and programs to make schools safer for LGBT students and the children of LGBT parents. As of 2003, there were 2,000 gay-straight alliances in U.S. public schools. In addition, at least 13 states have implemented programs to protect LGBT youth.
However, the Policy Institute recognizes the need for more programs for the LGBT youth population. The average age for students to self-identify as gay and lesbian is 16 — a vulnerable age for development of self-esteem and identity for all teens, but especially so for those who may face harassment for a growing awareness of different sexual orientation. In the current anti-gay political environment, however, many schools are backing off from their responsibilities to LGBT youth. Anti-gay parent groups are declaring war on LGBT teens, calling for so-called "No Promo Homo" legislation that bans any acknowledgement of the issues of gay young people in textbooks or lesson plans.
"President Bush promised to leave no child behind," Foreman said. "While today's anti-gay industry is building a culture that denies the fundamental humanity of vulnerable Americans, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth are the children most likely to be left behind. We cannot allow that to happen."
This year, Day of Silence expects to register more than 450,000 students in all 50 states, our nation's capital and Puerto Rico. GLSEN provides posters, buttons and speaking cards to publicize the event. For Day of Silence 2005, GLSEN will launch a special "Teach Respect" public education campaign. For more information go to www.GLSEN.org
The mission of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force is to build the political power of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community from the ground up. We do this by training activists, organizing broad-based campaigns to defeat anti-LGBT referenda and advance pro-LGBT legislation, and by building the organizational capacity of our movement. Our Policy Institute, the movement’s premier think tank, provides research and policy analysis to support the struggle for complete equality and to counter right-wing lies. As part of a broader social justice movement, we work to create a nation that respects the diversity of human expression and identity and creates opportunity for all. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., we also have offices in New York City, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis and Cambridge.
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