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US Anti-Bullying Campaign Day of Silence Hits N

US Anti-Bullying Campaign Day of Silence Hits NZ

The Day of Silence, a national campaign focused on drawing attention to homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying in schools launches in New Zealand today.

QSA (queer straight alliance) Network Aotearoa, a national organisation that works to make schools safer for queer and trans* youth, brings the Day of Silence to schools across the country for the first time this June. The campaign follows on from recent anti-bullying campaign Pink Shirt Day and has been endorsed by other youth organisations including Youthline and Rainbow Youth.

The Day of Silence was founded in 1996 at the University of Virginia and now takes place in over 70 countries worldwide - with it's New Zealand history beginning in 2007 at Nayland College in Nelson. Students pledge to be silent for the day to reflect the silence that many queer and trans* people go through about their identity as a direct result of bullying and discrimination.

"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 Tabby Besley, Chairperson of QSA Network Aotearoa. "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."

Statistics from the Youth 07 report conducted by the University of Auckland show that same or both-sex attracted young people are three times more likely than their heterosexual 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," says Tabby. "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."

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?".

The Day of Silence will run on Friday June 27th and young people and schools can register or find out more at www.dayofsilence.org.nz


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