Day of Silence is the largest student-driven action for safe schools in the world, and was introduced to New Zealand as a national campaign four years ago by InsideOUT, a national charity which works to make Aotearoa a safer place for young people of minority sexualities, genders and sex characteristics.
This year’s campaign surrounds the idea of challenging homophobia, transphobia and biphobia, and asks people to step in when they see discrimination happening.
“Just recently we’ve heard about conversion therapy taking place towards LGBTQ+ people, bakers refusing to serve same-gender couples, transphobia emerging in response to gender diverse people being able to have easier access to changing their identity documents and viewers complaining that Shortland Street is taking it too far by creating an intersex character on their show,” says Tabby Besley, National Coordinator of InsideOUT.
“Discrimination towards rainbow communities is still hugely prevalent in Aotearoa and more needs to be done to address it. The Day of Silence campaign is about raising awareness and asking New Zealanders to consider what part they play in ending homophobia, biphobia and transphobia in our country.”
Workplaces, organisations and individuals around the country are also joining schools to take actions to support rainbow communities, including fundraising for InsideOUT and taking a #selfieforsilence where they commit to an action to help break the silence about the effects of homophobia, biphobia and transphobia.
“Research tells us that the majority of rainbow young people in New Zealand are afraid someone will hurt or bother them at school, and 43% have actually been physically harmed while at school,” says Tabby. “This has a huge impact on their mental health and wellbeing – they are 5x more likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual peers. As a nation we have a responsibility to do better for our young people.”
Learn more and get involved at dayofsilence.org.nz