Students from southwestern Pennsylvania will join with those around the country to participate in the national Day of Silence on Friday.
Students in middle schools, high schools and colleges will take a vow of silence to draw attention to bullying and harassment of lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgender people.
Nationally, researchers say 160,000 children skip school each day due to fears related to bullying.
The first Day of Silence was organized by students from the University of Virginia in 1996 as part of a class assignment on nonviolent protests.
Vanessa Davis, Pittsburgh Chapter Director of the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) said they’re expecting about 10,000 students in the region to take part.
She said GLSEN is also hosting a Night of Noise at the Gay and Lesbian Community Center of Pittsburgh, which allows kids who took the vow of silence to come together and tell stories of their day.
“Different schools throughout the Pittsburgh area have taken part in Day of Silence for a number of years,” Davis said. “This is the second year that we’ve had the Night of Noise party afterwards for the students to participate in.”
She said the day is only one part of their efforts to tackle bullying, and those efforts have been paying off.
“We also see sort of a multi-layered effect within the schools where they are implementing inclusive curriculum," Davis said. "They have policies that protect students from being discriminated against, bully comprehensive policies on bullying and reporting of bullying.”
Davis said even though students taking part won’t speak on Friday, they will carry cards explaining the protest.