By John Wright

Mayor Leppert issues proclamation recognizing day of silent protest

More than 20 local organizations will host a rally Friday night, April 25, at Reverchon Park to culminate the National Day of Silence.

Meanwhile, Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert issued an official proclamation this week declaring Friday the "Day of Silence" in the city.

The first-of-its-kind rally, called Breaking the Silence, will be at 7 p.m. in the ampitheater and recreation center of the park, at 3505 Maple Avenue in Dallas. The rally is free and open to the public.

The National Day of Silence, sponsored by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, is an annual event designed to raise awareness about anti-gay bullying and harrasssment in schools. Students from middle school through college are asked to remain silent for at least a portion of the school day.

This year’s National Day of Silence has been dedicated to the memory of Lawrence King, the 14-year-old from California who was shot to death by a classmate in February for being gay. According to GLSEN, students from more than 6,500 schools nationwide have signed up to participate.

Beau Heyen, co-chairman of GLSEN Dallas, said the Breaking the Silence rally will feature refreshments, a DJ, a performance by a youth band, two youth speakers and informational tables representing the sponsors.

"I think it’s going to be very well attended," Heyen said.

The proclamation from Mayor Leppert, posted on GLSEN’s Web site, notes that 80 percent of LGBT students are verbally harassed at school; that 40 percent of LGBT students are physically harassed at school; that 20 percent of LGBT students are physically assaulted at school; and that 40 states don’t have laws protecting LGBT students from name-calling and harassment.

Chris Heinbaugh, Leppert’s openly gay chief of staff, cautioned that mayoral proclamations are "a dime a dozen" and have no legal effect. But Heinbaugh added, "It is something he feels very strongly about as a parent and a mayor, that no kid — gay, straight, whatever — should ever be bullied."

For more information on the National Day of Silence, visit

For more information on the rally, visit or call Heyen at (817)999-0199.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition April 25, 2008.

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