WMU News

WMU joins in national Day of Silence

April 19, 2004

KALAMAZOO--Western Michigan University will participate in its third national Day of Silence Wednesday, April 21.

Based on the idea that silence can be deafening, the event features area high school and college students who take a daylong vow of silence as a way of drawing attention to the discrimination and abuse that many lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender--LBGT--students experience at school.

In addition, some teachers and school administrations are actively endorsing this student-led national day of action, which promotes safer schools for LBGT students and supports those who have been silenced by hatred, oppression and prejudice.

In Southwest Michigan, many students will participate in activities being planned at WMU, including a rally and speak-out at 5 p.m. in the Wesley Foundation and a dance immediately following the rally until 8 p.m. Several campus and community organizations will have information tables at the rally.

The on-campus activities are being organized by OUTspoken, a registered student organization for WMU's undergraduates, and the University's Office of LBGT Student Services. The local Day of Silence observance is being sponsored by the Kalamazoo-area chapter of the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, or GLSEN.

The community-focused national Day of Silence Project grew out of a "day of silence" held at the University of Virginia in 1996. Organizers say it has become the country's largest single student-led initiative aimed at creating safer schools.

GLSEN, a national nonprofit organization fighting to end anti-gay bias in K-12 schools, became the project's official organizational sponsor in 2001 in partnership with the United States Student Association, America's oldest and largest national student organization and the recognized voice for students at the federal level.

For more information about the LBGT Student Services office, contact its coordinator, Bonnie M. Benson, at (269) 387-2123 or <lbgt-coordinator@wmich.edu>. Information is available online for GLSEN at <www.glsen.org> and for the national Day of Silence at <www.dayofsilence.org>.

Media contact: Jeanne Baron, 269 387-8400, jeanne.baron@wmich.edu

WMU News
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