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Thursday 29 June 2017

Students to be hushed for Day of Silence

Posted in: New Zealand Daily News
By Daily News staff - 26th June 2014


More than 40 schools have signed up to take part in tomorrow’s Day of Silence, with students pledging to be silent for the day to reflect the silence of many queer and trans people about their identity as a direct result of bullying and discrimination.

The initiative has been brought to New Zealand by the Queer Straight Alliance Network Aotearoa, which that works to make schools safer for queer and trans youth.

The Day of Silence was founded in 1996 at the University of Virginia and now takes place in over 70 countries worldwide - with its New Zealand history beginning in 2007 at Nayland College in Nelson.

"The campaign is about drawing attention to the silencing effect that bullying can have on young people who have a diverse sexual orientation or gender identity," says the QSA network’s Chair Tabby Besley.

"The idea behind the campaign is to bring attention to the issue so there can then be follow up actions to break the silence - like starting up a queer straight alliance group, or improving sexuality education."

Besley cites statistics from the Youth 07 report which show that same or both-sex attracted young people are three times more likely than their straight peers to be bullied on a weekly basis.

"The effect bullying has is also reflected in the study's statistics concerning levels of depression, anxiety, alcohol and drug abuse, self-harm and suicide attempts experienced by queer young people," she says.

"It's time students, staff and communities worked together to prevent and stop this bullying, and taking part in the Day of Silence is a great way to get that conversation started."

The Day of Silence has been endorsed by other organisations including Youthline, Rainbow Youth and the Human Rights Commission.

“Everyone has a human right to be free from fear, feel safe and to live a life free from violence and abuse – regardless of their gender identity or who they choose to love,” says Human Rights Commissioner Richard Tankersley.

“It is for this reason that we support events like Day of Silence. As New Zealanders we have to choose – whether we will be part of the problem or the solution. We need to stand up against bullying, in all its forms, and support those who are trying to make a difference”.

QSA Network Aotearoa encourages everyone to get involved with the campaign by submitting a 'Selfie for Silence' through their website or social media with the hashtag #dayofsilence. The campaign asks "What will you do to break the silence?”.

You can register or find out more here

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