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Students from record 7,300 K-12 schools registered for today's National Day of Silence

News release:

dos NEW YORK, April 25, 2008 – Students from more than 7,300 middle and high schools will take a vow of silence today during GLSEN’s 12th annual National Day of Silence to bring attention to anti-lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) name-calling, bullying and harassment. The event is being held this year in memory of Lawrence King, a 15-year-old from Oxnard, Calif., who was shot and killed in school on Feb. 12 because of his sexual orientation and gender expression.

Hundreds of thousands of students are expected to participate, from middle school to college. Students from more than 1,000 colleges also have registered.

“Because of what happened to Lawrence King, it put into perspective what can happen and the hardships that student face,” said Sarah Barnett, a high school student from Omaha, Neb., and member of the GLSEN Jump-Start National Student Leadership Team. “The Day of Silence is important because it’s a chance to spread respect in a positive manner.”

Students from the University of Virginia created the Day of Silence in 1996. GLSEN became national sponsor in 2001.

During the Day of Silence, students take some form of a vow of silence, often daylong, and hand out speaking cards to explain why they are not speaking.

The day has taken on particular importance this year because of Lawrence King’s murder. ‘N Sync’s Lance Bass (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ah5eUz6iT9s) and CNN’s Larry King (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tSm8QbFlXJ8) filmed PSAs in support of King and the Day of Silence.

Like many LGBT youth, King endured regular bullying and harassment because of his sexual orientation and gender expression. Four out of five LGBT youth experience harassment in school because of their sexual orientation every year, according to GLSEN’s 2005 National School Climate Survey. Additionally, 64% of LGBT youth feel unsafe at school because of their sexual orientation and 41% because of their gender expression.

“The positive reaction of students across the country to the Lawrence King tragedy is one of the most inspiring things we’ve seen in the more than 10 years of GLSEN’s work to ensure safe schools for all students,” said GLSEN Founder and Executive Director Kevin Jennings. “Students simply want to feel safe in school, and the Day of Silence brings hope to hundreds of thousands of young people that their schools and their world can be safer.”

Learn more at www.dayofsilence.org.

GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, is the leading national education organization focused on ensuring safe schools for all students. Established nationally in 1995, GLSEN envisions a world in which every child learns to respect and accept all people, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression. For more information on our educator resources, research, public policy agenda, student organizing programs or development initiatives, visit www.glsen.org.


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