September 9th 2016

FAQ - Day of Silence New Zealand

National Day of Silence FAQ

Friday September 9th is the National Day of Silence, an event where students all over the country will remain silent for all or part of the school day to call attention to the harassment and discrimination faced by queer and trans* youth.

Here we answer frequently asked questions about the event and practicalities of the day itself.


What is the Day of Silence?
What is InsideOut?
What is homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying?
Why should I register?
Who started the Day of Silence?
I don't identify with being a sexual or gender minority and I don't want people to think I am, so why should I take part?
Do I have a right to participate in the Day of Silence?
How do the Day of Silence activities affect the school day?
I want to take part but I have a speech/music/drama assessment on the day where I need to speak?
Do I need to be silent for the whole day? When does it end?
Do I need to wear tape on my mouth on the day? What if my tape comes off or we run out of tape?
What other things can I do to create an effective Day of Silence?
Can we do the Day of Silence on a day other than September 9th?
What happens if my school doesn't support the effort?
Does the work end after the day is over?
What do you have to say about potential opponents to the Day of Silence?
I'd like to make a donation, how can I do it?


What is the Day of Silence?

The Day of Silence is a national student-led event that brings attention to homophobic, biphobic and transphobic calling, bullying and harassment in schools. Students take a vow of silence in an effort to encourage schools and classmates to address the problem of bullying and discrimination towards others based on their sexual orientation or gender identity/expression by illustrating the silencing effect of bullying and harassment on LGBTQIA+ students and those perceived to be LGBTQIA+.

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What is InsideOut?

InsideOUT is a national organisation which works to make Aotearoa a safer place for all young people of diverse genders and sexualities to live and be in.

We work with young people, whanau, schools, youth service providers and communities to achieve our aims of decreasing and preventing homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying, provide safer spaces and generally improving the health and wellbeing of the young people we work with.

We aim to foster the building and provision of resources, education, information, hui and relevant tools which work to improve the health, wellbeing and safety of young people of diverse sexualities, sexes and genders. We work with with youth, wh?nau, schools, community groups, youth services, government agencies and other relevant organisations to achieve these aims.

Some of our key projects include

Support for Rainbow Diversity Groups/Queer Straight Alliances

We support young people and schools all over NZ in starting, strengthening, and sustaining rainbow diversity groups in their school to:

1. create a space where students can socialise in a safe environment
2. provide support for students who might be facing issues such as bullying
3. spread awareness about homophobia, biphobia, transphobia, gender identity and sexual orientation issues within the school.

A national youth hui for young people of diverse sexualitites, sexes, genders and their friends! Learn more at http://shift.insideout.org.nz

Expression
A multi-media arts competition for youth aged 13-19 with themes of sexuality, sex and gender diversity. Submit your artwork, writing or film at http://expression.insideout.org.nz
Check out our website at www.insideout.org.nz or contact us for further information or support at [email protected]

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What is homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying?

Homophobic, transphobic and biphobic bullying takes place when someone is targeted because of their actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity, or that of someone within their family or friend group.

As with all types of bullying, it can involve name-calling, derogatory comments, spreading of rumours, isolation, and even physical or sexual abuse. Phrases like "that's so gay", all-too-often dropped into casual conversation, can also be seen as bullying, because many people feel they are slurs against members of the gay, transgender, or bisexual communities.

We believe it is important to recognise that bullying affects all sorts of people differently - for example a transgender young person may face different discrimination to that of someone who is gay - such as not being allowed to wear the uniform for the gender they are - and someone who is bisexual or attracted to people of more than one gender will often face unique discrimination such as being told they are greedy or can't make up their mind.

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Why should I register?

In order to promote the Day of Silence's positive impact we need to know how many people participate. By registering you are helping us prove this that is an important issue that needs to be addressed. Register here and be counted!

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Who started the Day of Silence?

In 1996, students at the University of Virginia organised the first Day of Silence in response to a class assignment on non-violent protests with over 150 students participating in this inaugural event. In 1997, organizers took their effort nationally and nearly 100 colleges and universities participated. In 2001, GLSEN became the official organisational sponsor for the event. In 2007 the Day of Silence took place for the first time in New Zealand at Nayland College in Nelson. InsideOUT ran the Day of Silence as a national campaign for the first time in 2014 and hope to continue running it as an annual day in NZ.

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I don't identify with being a sexual or gender minority and I don't want people to think I am, so why should I take part?

Hundreds of thousands of students of all beliefs, backgrounds and sexual orientations participate in the Day of Silence from all over the world. Homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying and harassment affects all students. Slurs such as "that's so gay" "faggot" and "dyke" are commonplace in school. The Day of Silence is an example of students working together proactively to bring attention to name-calling, bullying and harassment experienced by LGBTQIA+ and straight cisgender students alike. The Day of Silence is a human rights campaign that all students can get involved in!

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Do I have a right to participate in the Day of Silence?

You DO have a right to participate in Day of Silence and other expressions of your opinion at school during non-instructional time: the breaks between classes, before and after the school day, lunchtime, and any other free times during your day. You do NOT have a right to remain silent during class time if a teacher asks you to speak. We recommend that you talk to your teachers ahead of time, tell them what you plan to do, and ask them if it would be okay for you to communicate on that day in writing.

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How do the Day of Silence activities affect the school day?

InsideOUT advises students interested in participating to discuss their intentions with their senior staff and teachers long before the event. The day is most successful when schools and students work together to show their commitment to ensuring safe schools for all students. Many schools allow student participation throughout the day. Some schools ask students to speak as they normally would during class and remain silent during breaks and at lunch, or they might only allow participation for half of the day.

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. Students may also participate in "Breaking the Silence" rallies, events where students come together at the day's end to express themselves and share their experiences with members of their local communities.

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I want to take part but I have a speech/music/drama assessment on the day where I need to speak?

Taking part in the Day of Silence shouldn't compromise your school work - and school work doesn't need to affect your ability to take part! You can still participate in the Day of Silence by staying silent for the rest of the day but speaking for your assessment.

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Do I need to be silent for the whole day? When does it end?

You can choose when to start speaking again - your school or organising group might organise a 'Breaking the Silence' event or finish time, or you could do it just for the school day, just for lunch time, or the entire day! There's no one way to participate in the Day of Silence.

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Do I need to wear tape on my mouth on the day? What if my tape comes off or we run out of tape?

You don't need the tape to be silent - it just helps bring visibility to the cause. You can choose to wear tape or a bandana over your mouth - this is optional - and we encourage you to take this off to eat and drink. If your tape falls off or you run out of it when signing students up don't panic! Give them a sticker or tattoo to show they are taking part - or you/they can write 'Day of Silence' on their hand and hold this up to let people know.

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What other things can I do to create an effective Day of Silence?

An important part of the Day of Silence is creating educational opportunities before and/or after the event. Many people will be affected by this event and will want to know more about the silence queer and trans* people face. Good follow-up events include: workshops, speakers, entertainment, or any other venue for evaluation, education and discussion.

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Can we do the Day of Silence on a day other than September 9th?

Yes of course - if this day clashes with something else important your school is doing then you could definitely run the campaign on a different day. E-mail us if you would like us to change the dates on the posters for you!

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What happens if my school doesn't support the effort?

We advise all students to secure school permission for the event. We believe that such support is critical for many reasons. We encourage students in those schools where support is unlikely to build campaigns to try and secure that support or work with their senior staff on compromises of activities the school will allow. We also encourage students to identify ways to participate outside of the school. Please refer to: Tips for the Last Minute Organizer or Addressing the Resistance.

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Does the work end after the day is over?

The Day of Silence is one element of a larger effort to create safer schools for all students, regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity/expression. Many communities, in addition to supporting the Day of Silence, host "Breaking The Silence" events, rallies, performances and more - both on the Day of Silence and all year round. We encourage students to get together to set up a queer straight alliance or rainbow diversity group in their school as an action to help break the silence. You can get connected to an ongoing national effort by linking in with InsideOUT.

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What do you have to say about potential opponents to the Day of Silence?

The issue at hand is the bullying, harassment, name-calling and violence that students see and face in our schools daily. The Day of Silence is an activity created and led by students to educate their peers and bring an end to this harassment. We look forward to engaging all organisations and individuals who share The Day of Silence vision of schools free from homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying and harassment.

If you face hostile students or organisations in your school on the Day of Silence, remember to remain calm. We encourage you to not get into a debate, make gestures or get into a physical altercation. If you continue to be harassed, we encourage you to contact a supportive member of staff. If people make homophobic, biphobic, transphobic remarks on the day of silence to you, knowing you will not respond, report them to staff.

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I'd like to make a donation, how can I do it?

Contributions are greatly appreciated. You can support the Day of Silence by making your donation to the project's organiser, InsideOut by visiting our Givealittle page here.

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