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Some WYO Teens Less Chatty at School Today

April 25, 2008

Cheyenne, WY – Hundreds of teens in Wyoming are not talking today, or for some of the day, as they take part in the National Day of Silence. It's a day to raise awareness about name-calling, bullying and harassment of gay students and students targeted because of their perceived sexual orientation.

Daryl Presgraves with the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network says their research shows that four out of five LGBT students are bullied every year, and two-thirds say they don't feel safe at school.

"And that's just the LGBT students. It doesn't count a lot of the non-LGBT students, straight students who are called all kinds of names and have family and friends who are gay."

Safety in schools is a big issue in light of the death of 8th-grader Lawrence King in California earlier this year. King was shot to death in class by another student, and friends say he was killed because of his sexual orientation. Presgraves says the incident affected students all across the country.

"We want to say that our society has made so many advances, and yet here we are in 2008, and there's still a student who's willing to walk in and shoot another student just because he's gay."

Students in more than 6,000 schools nationwide have signed up to stay silent, and many will be handing out cards explaining the reasons why.

More information is available online at www.dayofsilence.org.

Deborah Smith/Craig Eicher, Public News Service - WY