Because the DE (as well as some school administrators) have been asked questions about these observance days, observance of which is geared toward students and is voluntary, school administrators may find the following information useful. By providing the following information, the DE is neither promoting nor criticizing either day.
Thursday, April 15, has been designated as this year’s “Day of Truth” by the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF), a legal alliance “dedicated to defending the right to hear and speak the Truth. More specifically, ADF launched this project in 2005 to ensure the free speech rights of Christian students to present an opposing viewpoint to those organizations that promote homosexual behavior in the schools.”
Friday, April 16 has been designated by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network of the United States Student Association as this year’s “Day of Silence.” The Day of Silence is intended to “bring attention to anti-LGBT name-calling, bullying, and harassment in schools.”
Students and staff who desire to observe either day may do so if their observance does not create a substantial disruption of the educational environment. Before barring student participation in either day, check with your school attorney to see if s/he believes that such a move is legally defensible. A district should not approve student or teacher participation in just one of these upcoming days to the exclusion of the other. Observance usually is marked by wearing a t-shirt with a message supportive of either Day and the handing out of cards explaining the purpose behind the Day.
Students observing the Day of Silence also sometimes carry with them a card to explain to instructors that the student chooses not to speak voluntarily that day. This most likely does not disrupt the educational environment because students previously scheduled to give classroom oral presentations (either solo or as part of a group) are still expected to do so.
Teachers’ ability to participate may be regulated by their employers. “Speech” includes wearing apparel, ribbons, and pins, and districts may restrict teacher speech in the classroom and while on duty for the district (such as lunchroom or study hall duty). [Again, the DE is neither encouraging nor discouraging such regulation within schools; we merely note that such regulation is allowed.]