April 17, 2009
JACKSON, MS - More than 100 high school and college students around Mississippi are silent today---a form of protest against the discrimination lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students endure in Mississippi and around the nation. The students are participating in the international Day of Silence, started in 1996 by the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLSEN). According to GLSEN, Day of Silence is the largest student-led day of activism in the world.
'Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students face harassment every day in Mississippi,' states Elizabeth Pellegrine, a freshman at Mississippi State University. 'One of the most upsetting things is that the harassment is often endorsed or ignored by the very adults that are responsible for creating a safe environment for all students---the teachers, administration, and staff.' According to GLSEN's 2007 report, Mississippi ranks last out of all 50 states for creating a safe and supportive environment for LGBT students, the only state to receive a negative score out of 100 points.
Student events for the Day of Silence in Mississippi is as diverse as the youth participating, and includes taking a vow of silence for the entire school day, tabling to raise awareness of anti-LGBT bullying and having a public silent demonstration. The MS Safe Schools Coalition, of which the ACLU of MS is a member, is deeply invested in making schools safer for LGBT students in Mississippi. For more information on how to make your school safer, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the website at www.supportstudentsafety.com.