One year after California became the first state to mandate its public schools to teach LGBT history, the Illinois senate voted to implement the same education standard on May 2, 2018. This decision is another significant milestone for LGBT rights because when you look at the data, shockingly 80% of LGBTQ students don’t see positive LGBTQ representation in their curriculum, nearly 90% experience verbal harassment, and almost 30% regularly cut classes to avoid feeling unsafe or uncomfortable. This is why we take action on the National Day of Silence each year. Our silence gives voice to the daily turmoil our LGBTQ youth encounter in their schools and in their community.
This year our brothers participated in the National Day of Silence by hosting an event at The Attic Youth Center in Philadelphia. The Attic works to create opportunities for LGBTQ youth to develop into healthy, independent, civic-minded adults within a safe and supportive community. We brought our Don’t Let It Break You program to their center on April 27th in order to end the day by breaking our silence and telling stories of resilience and empowerment.
Since beginning our journey into community programming, we have been met with nothing but love and support from LGBTQ+ and ally community members, but this event was by far our most fulfilling. Speaking with youth and hearing poems and testimonies centered around their experiences with bullying, trauma, exclusion, fear––it was all too surreal and a poignant reminder that our work is not yet done. With many advances in LGBTQ+ rights, we still have a long way to go as it pertains to protecting and supporting our youth.
On April 27, 2018, we heard many cries for help through the silence, and we are committed now more than ever to do the real work.