Congressman Engel Introduces Legislation for National Day of Silence for LGBT Youth

National Day of silenceToday and every year on April 17th, thousands of youth at various schools across the country and globally, will observe a day-long vow of silence in support of LGBT students. The event is organized by the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), a national education organization for students, parents, and teachers that champions LGBT issues in K-12 education.

National Day of Silence is an annual day of observance in schools that aims to bring awareness of the various issues that plague LGBT students. The issues discussed are bullying, abuse, harassment, and discrimination of youth that identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender.

According to GLESN, more than half of LGBT youth feel unsafe in their own classrooms and 30 percent will miss a day of school this month because of threats, harassment, or violence. The bullying, whether it be emotional, verbal, or physical, can have devastating impact on a student’s performance in school and can lead to severe mental anguish.

“Our most recent National School Climate Survey showed that LGBT middle and high school students were verbally and physically harassed at shocking rates and nearly two-thirds heard homophobic remarks frequently or often.” explained Dr. Eliza Byard, Executive Director of GLSEN.

Just in time for today’s observance was a new resolution (H.Con.Res 38) that was introduced by Congressman Eliot Engel (NY-16) to support National Day of Silence.

“Every year, 85 percent of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender kids in this country are verbally harassed at school, and nearly a fifth will be physically assaulted,” Congressman Engel said. “It is time for the bullying and abuse to stop.”

Congressman Engel has supported previous legislation concerning LGBT issues like supporting ENDA (Employment Non-Discrimination Act) to prohibit employment discrimination for gays and voting against DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act) and Marriage Protection Amendment (bans same-sex marriage).

“Counseling and outreach have helped these students, but change is not coming fast enough. So once again I have introduced a resolution expressing my support for the Day of Silence and calling for more action. LGBT students deserve to be able to go to school without fear of harassment. We have an obligation to make sure every child feels safe, no matter who they are.” said Congressman Engel.

“We thank Congressman Engel for his long-standing support of GLSEN’s Day of Silence, during which students across the country use the power of silence to shine a spotlight on the crisis of name-calling, bullying, and harassment faced by LGBT youth in schools every day,” said Dr. Byard.

There are an estimated 20,000 homeless youth in New York City and 40 percent of homeless youth in the United States identify as LGBT. Enough is not enough to help our homeless LGBT youth. Our LGBT youth are threatened and bullied at home, in schools, and on the street. We need to protect our youth and National Day of Silence is meant to bring awareness to these issues.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email