Day of Silence raises awareness about homophobic bullying

By Regan Paranihi

Warning: Flashing images in the video

Thousands of students across New Zealand will today take a vow of silence, to draw attention to the silence that surrounds homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying in schools and communities.

Day of Silence was introduced to New Zealand four years ago by InsideOUT, a charity which works to make Aotearoa a safer place for young people of minority sexualities, genders and sex characteristics.

This campaign is the largest student-driven action for safe schools in the world and this year it's about challenging the idea of homophobia, transphobia, and biphobia and to get more people speaking up when they see discrimination among their peers. 

National Coordinator of InsideOUT, Tabby Biesley says, "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.” 

Besley says more needs to be done around discrimination and the Day of Silence is about raising that awareness.

“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.