In 1996, a group of students at the University of Virginia did a remarkable thing.
Assigned a class project on nonviolence, they founded the Day of Silence, a day supporting the LGBTQ community. On this day, they protested the bullying and harassment of LGBTQ students by taking a vow of silence. Throughout the day, the students would hand out “speaking cards” that would explain why they were protesting in silence:
“Please understand my reasons for not speaking today. I am participating in the Day of Silence, a national youth movement protesting the silence faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people and their allies in schools. My deliberate silence echoes that silence, which is caused by harassment, discrimination, and prejudice. I believe that ending the silence is the first step towards fighting these injustices. Think about the voices you are not hearing today. What are you doing to end the silence?”
The first protest was very successful, with over 150 students taking part. From this humble beginning, the Day of Silence has gone international, with students and allies all over the United States, Canada, and the rest of the world taking part and protesting the silencing of LGBTQ voices. Held on the second Friday of April, in 2019 it was observed on Friday, April 12th.
Despite what many anti-LGBTQ organizations say about the Day of Silence, its intent is not to “promote homosexuality.” Instead, it’s a call to action, drawing attention to the daily struggles that LGBTQ youths face every day.
As mental health professionals, you don’t need to be told about the dangers that LGBTQ youths in our country face on a daily basis. Even with the social progress of the last few years, LGBTQ students are still bullied at a higher rate than their straight peers. This verbal, physical, and even sexual harassment has contributed significantly to the suicide rates of this vulnerable demographic.
Protecting these youths is of vital importance, and while we applaud every student who participates in the Day of Silence, we as adults and mental health professionals can not afford to stay silent. It’s important that the needs of LGBTQ minors are met by therapists, councillors, and other professionals who can offer them the support they need to live their lives without fear.
One way that Owl Practice assists with this is through our Circle of Care system and Minor Client profiles. In the profiles of minors, you can include not only their name and contact information but also everyone in their lives who are important to their overall mental health. This can include parents, teachers, doctors, social workers, mental health professionals, and others. You will be able to make notes about each of these relationships so everything you need will be right at your fingertips. If a minor’s parents are, in fact, a cause of mental anguish (for example, if they are anti-LGBTQ), you will be able to make a note about that so you can protect the child’s privacy.
The Circle of Care system also allows you to link profiles together. If you are seeing an entire family, you can connect the profiles of the children to the parents and vice versa. This gives you a full picture of their relationships while also allowing you to set up group sessions between family members in minutes. You will also be able to attach a minor’s profile to a parent’s billing information, simplifying the entire billing process.
Sometimes, minors will go looking for mental health support by themselves, hoping to talk about their problems. You can make it easy for them to find the right people by signing up with TherapyOwl. This is a free directory of Canadian mental health professionals. With it, minors and adults are easily able to find someone uniquely qualified to help address their issues.
We think that the Day of Silence is a remarkable form of protest and one that we support wholeheartedly. We hope that it continues to grow, drawing greater levels of attention to the struggles LGBTQ minors face at school and at home. To those students who participated, thank you.
Alongside these services designed to help minors, we also offer several other services to help you manage your practice. If you’d like to see everything, we invite you to sign up for a free demo. And if you have any questions or comments about our services, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.