Today is the GLSEN Day of Silence for LGBTQ+ students and allies who are standing together across the country to bring attention to the bullying and discrimination that queer students face. The first Day of Silence was held in 1996 at the University of Virginia, and has since expanded to hundreds of schools across the country, involving thousands of students.
Right here in Iowa, LGBTQ+ students have been at the center of many partisan attacks from Iowa’s Republican lawmakers. Queer stories and perspectives in books and school literature have been designated as obscene material by several extreme legislators this session. Futhermore, Governor Reynolds’ discriminatory trans-athlete ban will sideline children and prevent them from playing sports with their friends, missing out on critical social and team building experiences.
“Iowa’s LGBTQ+ youth deserve our support, love, and protection. These young people are our future and should be lifted up to allow them to become all that they are called to be,” said Matt McCoy, a current Polk County Supervisor and formerly the first openly gay state senator in Iowa. “Iowa’s laws should be welcoming and affirming and should celebrate the diversity that we need to be successful as a state.“
Although LGBTQ+ specific studies are few and far between, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) reports that lesbian, gay, and bisexual students are twice as likely as straight students to experience mental health issues. That number jumps even higher for transgender students, with reports that mental health issues are four times as prevalant than with cis-students. These numbers are disheartening, but unsurprising, when 86% of LGBTQ+ students report being bullied, harassed, and discriminated against at school.
“We need to be doing better as a state to protect students of all backgrounds, especially LGBTQ+ students who have become the center of the Republican-lead attack against diversity and inclusion in schools,” said Matt Sinovic, Executive Director of Progress Iowa. “Instead of passing laws that will prevent kids from playing games with their friends in schools, Reynolds and Iowa Republicans should focus on providing more mental health resources to students and families across the state.”
Some ways that you can get involved in the GLSEN Day of Silence is by donating to GLSEN to support their organizational work to protect LGBTQ+ students and adults across this country.
You can also donate to the Trevor Project, a queer-focused suicide prevention organization that was founded to provide a lifeline to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning students.
Finally, you can learn more about the importance of representation and the Trans Day of Visibility by reading more on our article here – Transgener Day of Visibility Clouded.