GLSEN Phoenix finds a way to honor the annual Day of Silence event during COVID-19

Courtesy of GLSEN Phoenix

Virtual meetings and gatherings are the norm right now, as we quarantine to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Local organization GLSEN is using technology to hold its annual Day of Silence event.

The student-led demonstration turns 25 this year and is a national happening where LGBTQ+ students and allies around the world take a vow of silence to protest the harassment and discrimination of LGBTQ+ people in schools.

Because of school closures and other disruptions caused by Coronavirus, the Day of Silence can be even more important to students around the country. GLSEN Phoenix, a chapter of GLSEN, advocates for safer schools in Arizona and is committed to keeping students connected with their support networks from school.

"Right now, what students need most is to know they are not alone,” says Rebecca Semik, Student Programs Manager for GLSEN Phoenix. “Raising awareness and being public with their solidarity goes a long way for students hoping to feel seen.”

“We invite community members to stand in solidarity with LGBTQ+ students everywhere by participating in the virtual Day of Silence event at, and posting on social media”. 

The GLSEN Phoenix Shine Team, a group of high school students going through a year-long leadership training led by Semik, will be posting self-made videos to the GLSEN Phoenix social media accounts, showing how they are keeping the Day of Silence spirit alive at home.  

Schools that worked with GLSEN Phoenix throughout the year are holding virtual celebrations of their own. The Gay-Straight Alliance organization for the Peoria Accelerated High School is hosting an event for all of their students to watch the national Day of Silence celebration together.

Courtesy of GLSEN

“In an effort to still connect GSA members to support, we will be setting up a Google Hangout to allow students to participate as a group watching the national Breaking the Silence event on Facebook,” says Erin Manning, a GSA Advisor for Peoria Accelerated High School.

“So many students are struggling with the isolation of being at home and away from friends or supportive adults outside their home. We want to do what we can to let students know we are still here for them, we are thinking about them, and we are ready to be there by their sides when we return to school.”

Started in the mid-'90s by two college students, the Day of Silence has expanded to reach hundreds of thousands of students each year. Every April, students go through the school day without speaking, ending the day with Breaking the Silence rallies and events to share their experiences during the protest and bring attention to ways their schools and communities can become more inclusive.

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