Day of Silence

Sponsored by GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, the National Day of Silence is a day of action in which students across the country take some form of a vow of silence to call attention to the silencing effect of anti-LGBT bullying and harassment in schools. Through their activities students can speak out against harassment and organize for change for their schools and communities.

The Day of Silence is a Tool for Change. Organizing a Day of Silence (DOS) activity or event can be a positive tool for change-both personally and community-wide. By taking a vow of silence, you’re making a powerful statement about the important issue of anti-LGBT bullying. When you organize others to join you that message becomes louder and louder. You can use this attention as a building block in your plans for larger action. Find out more about the Day of Silence at the links below.

GLSEN is the nation’s leading education organization working to assure that each member of every school community is valued and respected regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression. GLSEN has been the official sponsor of the National Day of Silence since 2001. Learn more at Lambda Legal, “Under the Constitution, public schools must respect students’ right to free speech. The right to speak includes the right not to speak, as well as the right to wear buttons or T-shirts expressing support for a cause.”

However, this right to free speech doesn’t extend to classroom time. “If a teacher tells a student to answer a question during class, the student generally doesn’t have a constitutional right to refuse to answer.” We remind participants that students who talk with their teachers ahead of time are more likely to be able to remain silent during class.

Check out online help desk here for more information.

Legal Help: Report It! 
If you think your rights are not being respected, or want to report your experience of resistant administration, go to GLSEN and Lambda Legal will review your situation.

Four Truths about the Day of Silence
As the Day of Silence continues to grow, some people have confused the mission and goals of the Action. Clear up any misinformation by reading The Truth about the Day of Silence.

Days of Action Endorsers 
These organizations have officially endorsed GLSEN’s Days of Action. To become a Days of Action Endorser, please 

Evangelicals and conservative Christians are often the strongest opponents of LGBT acceptance. What if this perspective could change?

Join us for this special two-night event, as we work together to transform the LGBT conversation on USC’s campus and back home.

Night One: Transformation on Campus
For the first night, we’ll survey Christians across campus to find out what they really think about topics like sexual orientation and same-sex marriage. Then we’ll bring them together for a conversation that will open their eyes and change the way they interact with the campus LGBT community.

Night Two: Transformation at Home
In this one-of-a-kind training session, we’ll teach you the tips and tricks you need to change minds among the Christians back home—family members, friends, and even churches. We’ll give you free DVDs, booklets, and training materials to make it easy, and we’ll hook you up with free support and advice as you work to change minds throughout the year.

This event brought to you FREE by the Arcus Foundation and is Cosponsored by the Gay Christian Network and the Bisexual, Gay, Lesbian, Straight Alliance at the University of South Carolina.

Ms. Gaymecock Pageant

The 2011 Ms. Gaymecock will be Thursday, October 27 · 8:00pm – 11:00pm at Pt’s 1109.  PT’s 1109 1109 Assembly Street, Columbia, SC 29201-3147.

Doors will open at 7 PM.
Show begins at 8 PM.
Tickets are $7.BGLSA members get in free.



Miss & Mr SC Pride Pageant

BGLSA kids, you don’t want to miss this evening. The Miss & Mr SC Pride Pageant is the largest pageant in South Carolina.

VIP Tickets are $30 and include reserved front row seating and general admission tickets are $25. All tickets include an open bar and hors devours. Tickets can be purchased online at

If you would like to be a participant in the pageant contact Kiki Deville at

commUNITY picnic

The University of South Carolina is excited to kick off a fantastic 2011-12 academic year! Come meet members of our current and incoming lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning, and queer (LGBTQ) community as well as our remarkable allies.

Find the event on facebook here.

Enjoy some traditional Southern cuisine, play some games, get a campus tour, or just socialize and realize all the opportunities ahead this year! Come meet local LGBTQ and ally-focused campus and community partners and meet members of our student organization, BGLSA.

Welcome Home, LGBTQ and Ally Gamecocks! We’re proud to have you here in the Carolina community.

Have any questions?  E-mail or

See who is attending…

President Obama finally signs DADT off the books

President Obama, Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Michael Mullen officially signed “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” off the books today.

“Today, we have taken the final major step toward ending the discriminatory ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ law that undermines our military readiness and violates American principles of fairness and equality,” Obama said in a statement.

The law passed last December and required the President to officially sign off on the repeal. The certification will be followed by a 60 day waiting period, set to end on September 20th.

The following was announced at a briefing held at the Pentagon with the Repeal Implementation Team and the Department’s General Counsel, Jeh Johnson:

-Benefits will largely be untouched by the change, since DOMA and other laws restrict the military from recognizing same sex partners. The Department won’t be giving service pay for those honorably discharged for being gay.

-Sexual orientation will not affect where soldiers are deployed.

-Prior to the certification, the Service Chiefs and Secretaries were consulted. A Defense official says they “unanimously” reported that their services were ready for the repeal.

-1.79 million servicemembers have gone through training in preparation for the repeal. Under the law passed in December, training does not need to be 100 percent complete prior to the repeal.

-Commanders will be prohibited from physically segregating gay servicemembers.

-Those who were discharged solely for being gay can re-enlist on September 20th.


History of LGBTQ Issues at Carolina

In honor of Ryan Wilson being named President of the Harriet Hancock Center, we decided to dig up some history he compiled while he was a graduate student here at USC.

Compiled by Ryan C. Wilson, M.Ed.

In 1982, Gay Student Association v. University of South Carolina, et al, was filed against the University by the ACLU and several gay students seeking to be recognized as an official student organization. The court required USC to allow the Gay Student Association to meet on campus and be recognized as an official student organization. This decision and the resulting policy changes marked the beginning of a modern era at the University of South Carolina in which Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Questioning (LGBTQ) students find a growing tolerance and a move toward acceptance on our campus.

The December 5, 2003 The Daily Gamecock reported, “Sexual orientation added to policy” (Fellner, 2003). After 10 years of debate and delay, the Board of Trustees voted to amend the University of South Carolina’s official nondiscrimination policy to officially protect Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual students, faculty, and staff at USC from discrimination in any form of educational or employment opportunity (Fellner, 2003). Following on the heels of this policy change, Zachary Scott became the first openly gay man to be elected to the position of Student Government President after serving a year as Vice-President (Ledbetter, 2004).

That same year, the University created a program known as the Safe Zone Ally Project. The January 12, 2004 the Gamecock reported, “Beginning this spring, USC will launch a Safe Zone project on campus in which decals will be placed on the doors of students, faculty and staff who support members of the gay, lesbian, and transgender community” (Ledbetter, 2004).

The Safe Zone Ally Project continues today and is now run out of Student Health Services by a graduate assistant. The 24-hour, on-call staff advocates from the Sexual Assault and Violence Intervention & Prevention office respond to cases of bias incidents and hates crimes targeting LGBT students and provide resources for victims of same-sex relationship violence or sexual assault as part of their work to prevent all types of interpersonal violence.

Annual campaigns such as Homophobia Awareness Week and National Coming Out Day have become regular events on the campus calendar. These dates have been included in the printed Mortar Board calendars and are organized by the BGLSA student organization and Safe Zone Allies. The Birdcage: Gamecock Style, an oncampus drag show and educational event, has become an annual part of the University’s Creed Week celebrations (Kapustynska, March 2009). Each year BGLSA students hold the Ms. Gaymecock Pageant, a drag show competition to raise money for the student organization (Fenner, Nov 2008).

The GLBTQ PhotoVoice project, held in the Russell House on April 17, 2008, featured photographs and poetry produced by LGBT students that explained their unique experiences. The presentation of the final work was attended by a number of the senior university administrators, faculty, and students (Carroway, April 2008). The recommendations from the GLBTQ PhotoVoice are included in this report.

Following the GLBTQ PhotoVoice project, several of the participants conducted follow-up focus groups, in conjunction with students & staff from the Arnold School of Public Health & the College of Social Work. Faculty, staff, and students candidly shared their experiences and impressions of life at Carolina. In Spring 2008, graduate students Clint Neill and Ryan Wilson (with the authorization Dr. Pruitt, Vice President for Student Affairs) conducted comprehensive Best Practices research, attended conferences on LGBT Student Resources, and completed the LGBT Campus Climate Index in 2008 and updated the index in 2009.
For more information, please contact the Safe Zone Ally Project graduate assistant or call 803.777.8283.

Carroway, Maritza. (2008, April 17). “Photovoice uses art to raise awareness.” The Daily Gamecock.
Fellner, Kevin. (2003, December 5). “Sexual orientation added to policy.” The Gamecock.
Justin Fenner. (2008, November 7). “BGLSA hosts Miss Gaymecock.” The Daily Gamecock.
Kapustynska, Aleks. (2009, March 25). “Birdcage: Fierce and feathered fun.” The Daily Gamecock.
Ledbetter, Julie. (2004, January 12). “Safe Zone project to help gay community.” The Gamecock.
Ledbetter, Julie. (2004, March 19). “Scott first openly gay president.” The Gamecock.
Staff and Wire Reports. (1983, February 4). “USC Violated Gay Organization’s right, judge rules”. The Gamecock. p1.

Senate schedules “Defense of Marriage Amendment” hearing

The Senate scheduled its first hearing July 20 at 10:00 a.m. on the Defense of Marriage Act in hopes that legislation will be repealed Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Patrick Leahy announced Tuesday.

“It’s time for Congress to end this gay exception and allow legally married same-sex couples access to the tools and security available to all other couples to build a life together and protect their families,”  Freedom to Marry national campaign director Marc Solomon said in a statement Tuesday.

The hearing subtitled, “Assessing the Impact of DOMA on American Families,” is investigating the detrimental and discriminatory effects DOMA has on gay and lesbian families.

Richland County Passes Non-Discrimination Ordinance

Last month County Council unanimously decided to pass an ordinance making it illegal to discriminate in public accommodations and housing.

Sponsored by freshman Councilman Seth Rose, the ordinance protects individuals from discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, familial status, disability or sexual orientation and establishes a fine of $500 for offenders.

“Both these efforts to eliminate discrimination in Richland County represent a giant step forward in our policies,” Councilman Seth Rose said in a release. “I commend my colleagues for joining me in taking a stand against discrimination and proclaiming that regardless of shape or form, discrimination is not welcome in our County.”

This policy follows another three months ago when the council amended their personnel policy to provide discrimination protection in employment based upon sexual orientation and gender identity.