UWMC’s First Day of Silence

Submitted on behalf of Tess Mattingly, Research Associate at United Way of Metropolitan Chicago.   Friday, April 20 marked the National Day of Silence and United Way of Metropolitan Chicago’s inaugural year as a participant. The Day of Silence is a national movement led by youth and GSAs (Gay-Straight Alliances) in high schools and colleges in which students take a vow of silence to bring awareness to the silencing effect of bullying and anti-LGBT harassment. In partnership with The Alliance: Illinois Safe Schools, United Pride facilitated multiple ways for staff to participate and advocate for LGBT youth in our Chicago communities of greatest need. Some United Way staff took vows of silence, others refrained from social media, and still others wore Day of Silence stickers, educating peers on the harms of bullying. Many staff went further to advocate directly for children in Illinois schools by contacting Senators on the Illinois Education Committee to promote support of Bill HB 5290 to prevent and address harmful bullying in schools, citing statistics such as “Passing rates on standardized exams are up to 6 percent lower in schools where students report a severe bullying climate.” The Bullying Prevention Bill ties directly to the three pillars United Way believes are critical to a successful life: income, education and health. Half of Illinois students report they have been verbally harassed and nearly 1 in 4 students reported they have been physically harassed or assaulted in school in the past year. By addressing bullying in schools, we can create a healthy, safe learning environment for students across the state, leading to measurable results. Furthermore, by providing kids with a better environment in which to learn we are better preparing them to enter the workforce and succeed. United Pride is excited to expand and build on the partnership with The Alliance, working with GSAs and motivated student leaders in the communities we serve. For more information on how you can support United Pride please contact Seth Vermilyea at 312-906-2311. Photo Credit: Wheeler Cowperthwaite

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