What is the "Day of Silence" and what is its significance?

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kipling2448 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Initiated by students at the University of Virginia in 1996 to raise awareness of discrimination against and physical intimidation of gay people, the Day of Silence has since expanded across the nation and is observed at many universities. The student organization Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, formed in 1990 by a group of teachers with the mission to "create safe and affirming schools for all, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression," assumed responsibility for organizing the annual event.

The periodic murder of gay teenagers and young adults, and the bullying of many others, has sparked greater awareness of the intense hatred still felt by some members of society and of the brutal violence that manifests itself in anti-gay attacks.

The annual observance of a Day of Silence dedicated to the LGBTQ community is not universally appreciated. Socially conservative organizations like the American Family Association have condemned the event, usually on the basis of their interpretations of Biblical strictures such as that in the Book of Leviticus (20:13), which states (per the King James version), “If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.” This provision in the Bible has been used for centuries to attack gay people, and many of those who adopt a literal interpretation of the Bible are guided by this prohibition.

In conclusion, the Day of Silence is a student-initiated event intended to heighten awareness of the physical and mental abuse to which gay people have been subjected.