by Jeanne Sager
Did you notice your teenager was quieter than usual today? No, it wasn't hormones. Today is the annual Day of Silence, the one day a year when kids zip their lips to show support for their LGBT peers who are forced on a daily basis to keep their mouths shut about who they really are out of fear of retribution.
They're sending a powerful message to the world without saying a word, and it's not just about the rights of gay kids in America.
By using quiet as their weapon, the kids taking part in the National Day of Silence are proving you can fight fire with fire, you can turn a problem to your advantage. As a representative of GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network, the non-profit behind today's campaign put it:
Silence as a way to bring attention to an important issue is a lot different from silence that is coerced through bullying, harassment, or intimidation.
Got it? They're silent not because they've been forced to be this time but because they want to be. The difference is subtle, but one I'm trying to teach my daughter. She needs to realize that sometimes the best way to win a battle is to stop fighting.
Ironically it's silence we've talked about the most. When one of her friends gets into a snit and stops talking to her, I've taught her that she can try once or twice to engage them in conversation but after that, it's better to just walk away. The friend who thinks she's getting one over on her by torturing her with silence ends up losing in the end when she realizes she won't engage.
And then it's game over.
It's a skill that can be hard for kids to master, but it's one that will help them for the rest of their lives. It's one that can send a loud message about what they'll put up with (or won't).
Just make sure you teach them to use it for something truly important -- like backing up their LGBT peers.
Are your kids taking part in the Day of Silence?