NotesFAQContact Us
Search Tips
ERIC Number: EJ1014976
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2013
Pages: 4
Abstractor: ERIC
ISSN: ISSN-0895-6855
Rethinking the Day of Silence
Murphy, Adriana
Rethinking Schools, v27 n4 p42-45 Sum 2013
Back in 2006, 7th and 8th graders at Green Acres, the K-8 independent school where the author taught in suburban Maryland, participated in the Day of Silence. The Day of Silence is a national event: Students across the country take a one-day pledge of silence to show that they want to make schools safe for all students, regardless of their sexual orientation and gender identity/expression. The idea is for students to better understand--and to express solidarity with--people who feel they must remain silent about who they are. In theory, the event is a good one--after all, who does not want students to develop empathy and understanding? But in practice, they found that the Day of Silence presented two fundamental challenges: Middle schoolers are not very good at being silent, and students wanted to know how their silence actually helped people who felt they were not free to be themselves. Several students gave their best effort to remain silent for the day, but for the majority, an hour was the maximum. If the purpose of the day is to teach students how hard it is to be unable to fully express oneself, it did not take students more than an hour to figure that out. Telling middle schoolers that they are not allowed to speak is akin to telling teachers they cannot teach--it just goes against their essence. In that first year, the teachers figured that perhaps they just did not enforce the "no talking" rule well enough, so they tried it again, but year two yielded the same results. When it came to LGBT topics, the students did not want to be silent--they wanted to talk. This article describes how, when the Day of Silence does not work at a middle school, staff and students look for other ways to talk about LGBT issues. It describes how the students came to rename the Day of Silence the Day of Action in order to focus, through eight workshops, on actions they could take to support their LGBT peers and to stand up against bullying and discrimination.
Rethinking Schools, Ltd. 1001 East Keefe Avenue, Milwaukee, WI 53212. Tel: 414-964-9646; Fax: 414-964-7220; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Grade 7; Grade 8; Middle Schools; Junior High Schools; Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Maryland
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A