According to GLSEN, students at the University of Virginia organized the first Day of Silence in 1996 in response to a class assignment on non-violent protests with over 150 students participating. In 1997, organizers took their effort national and nearly 100 colleges and universities participated. In 2001, GLSEN became the official organizational sponsor for the event.
Probably the biggest question each year is: Do I have a right to participate in my school? Here’s GLSEN’s answer:
You DO have a right to participate in Day of Silence and other expressions of your opinion at a public school during non-instructional time: the breaks between classes, before and after the school day, lunchtime, and any other free times during your day. You do NOT have a right to remain silent during class time if a teacher asks you to speak. We recommend that you talk to your teachers ahead of time, tell them what you plan to do, and ask them if it would be okay for you to communicate on that day in writing.
Should be interesting to see how Day of Silence goes this year, especially in states like North Carolina and Mississippi that just passed laws designed to bully and harass the LGBT community.