Task Force commemorates Day of Silence

April 16, 2010

Inga Sarda-Sorensen
Director of Communications
(Office) 646.358.1463
(Cell) 202.641.5592

WASHINGTON, April 16 — The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force commemorates the annual Day of Silence, sponsored by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN). Thousands of students nationwide are participating in today's Day of Silence to bring attention to name-calling, bullying and harassment that many youth encounter daily based on their actual or perceived sexual orientation and gender expression/identity.

Statement by Rea Carey, Executive Director
National Gay and Lesbian Task Force

"The Task Force salutes each and every student keeping silent today to advocate for schools that are free of bullying and harassment. We know that young people risk their safety every day in order to attend schools that provide cover to and ignore the bullies who can make their lives living hell while adults look the other way. Adults must act to stop the epidemic of school harassment that diminishes the safety of all, but particularly leaves young lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people isolated, afraid and desperate.

"The recent suicide of 15-year-old Phoebe Prince in South Hadley, Mass., underscores in the most stark way the need for adults to intervene when they witness bullying of students. We've also heard the recent stories of two students who survived bullying at Itawamba Agricultural High School in Fulton, Miss. Constance McMillen was the victim of a mean trick by her fellow students and their parents when she was invited to a sparsely attended 'prom' while most of her other classmates partied at a different event. Meanwhile, Juin Baize was driven out of Fulton for wearing clothing the principal deemed 'a distraction.' He sought refuge and a better high school environment in Florida.

"Adults must develop a mature conscience of empathy when students are the butts of jokes, sneers and contempt by other students and, sometimes, even parents of students. We need comprehensive federal and state legislation to put in place policies and practices that mandate school personnel to report and stop the bullying. Let's end the isolation and fear, let's stop the bullies, and let's make our schools welcoming to all. The lives of kids depend on us."

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The mission of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force is to build the grassroots power of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community. We do this by training activists, equipping state and local organizations with the skills needed to organize broad-based campaigns to defeat anti-LGBT referenda and advance pro-LGBT legislation, and 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.