The National Day of Silence is a day of action in which students across the country vow to take a form of silence to call attention to the silencing effect of homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying, name-calling and harassment in schools.
The goal of the Day of Silence is to make schools safer for all students, regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity/expression.
Students across the country participate in the Day of Silence to bring attention to this problem, let students who experience such bullying know that they are not alone and ask schools to take action to address the problem.
There is no single way to participate, and students are encouraged to take part in the way that is the most positive and uplifting for their school.
From 2020 onwards InsideOUT will be putting more focus into our Schools Pride Week Campaign, which focuses on celebrating rainbow identities. Schools are still encouraged to participate in Day of Silence if it works for them, and if they would like can then break the silence the following week by running Pride Week.
Why Be Silent
Silence can be used as a powerful tool of protest. The reason why we hold this campaign is to create visibility around the issues of homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying in New Zealand schools. Students who participate choose to remain in silence to stand in solidarity with the wider rainbow community in protest against bullying. Specifically bullying targeted toward the rainbow community such as homophobia, biphobia and transphobia which is often strutted off and silenced.
The Youth’12 study on Same or Both-Sex Attracted Young People conducted by the University of Auckland shows us that;
– Same or both-sex attracted young people in New Zealand are 3x more likely to be bullied weekly than their heterosexual peers.
– 57.9% of students were worried someone would hurt/bother them at school and 43.3% had been hit or physically harmed on purpose at school in the last year.
– Of those students who had been bullied over 8x as many had been bullied because they were gay or because people thought that they were gay compared to their opposite-sex-attracted peers.
– There has been no improvement in over 10 years in regards to the amount of bullying sexual minorities face in New Zealand schools.
These statistics show us that homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying is a major issue in New Zealand schools and it’s time something was done about it.
The Youth’12 report also highlights the concerning levels of depression, anxiety, alcohol and drug abuse, self harm and suicide experienced by young people of sexual minorities. The Youth’12 report on transgender students shows that nearly 20% had attempted suicide in the previous year and nearly 50% had been physically abused.
By taking part in the Day of Silence, students can bring the topic of bullying into the light and then work with school staff and students on follow up actions to break the silence. These could include starting up a queer straight alliance, improving the quality of education on sexual orientation and gender in health classes or specifying homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying in your school’s anti-bullying policies and strategies.
Founded in 1996, the Day of Silence has become the largest single student-led action towards creating safer schools for all, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression. From the first-ever Day of Silence at the University of Virginia in 1996, to the organising efforts in over 8,000 schools in 2013. In 2007 the Day of Silence took place for the first time in New Zealand at Nayland College in Nelson. The day has been held at the school every year since and has grown to run in the other schools in the Nelson region and other places across the country. This is the 7th year of InsideOUT running this campaign in New Zealand.
Who We Are
Day of Silence New Zealand is run by the InsideOUT team of staff and volunteers. InsideOUT is a national charity with the vision for all rainbow young people to have a sense of safety and belonging in their schools and communities.
Organising for Day of Silence
Organising a Day of Silence (DOS) activity or event can be a positive tool for change-both personally and community-wide. By taking a vow of silence, you’re making a powerful statement about the important issue of homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying, and when you organise others to join and stand together, that message becomes stronger.
Over 100 schools have taken part in Day of Silence in Aotearoa since 2014!