The sexual revolution of post-World War II America changed sexual and gender roles profoundly.
With reports from hundreds of sub-Saharan African locales of male-male sexual relations and from about fifty of female-female sexual relations, it is clear that same-sex sexual relations existed in traditional African societies, though varying in forms and in the degree of public acceptance
In British law, Section 28 of the Local Government Act, enforced from 1988 until 2003, prohibited the promotion of homosexuality and teaching the acceptability of homosexuality as a "pretended family relationship".
The Hijras--men who dress and act like women--have been a presence in India for generations, maintaining a third-gender role that has become institutionalized through tradition.
The dominant ideology among politicized lesbians during the 1970s and 1980s, Lesbian Feminism was based on the premise that lesbianism and feminism were inextricably linked.
Harvey Milk, among the first openly gay man to be elected to public office in the United States, was assassinated in San Francisco's City Hall, making him the American gay liberation movement's most visible martyr.
By the early twentieth-century, YMCAs had become popular havens for men who sought sex with other men.
Compulsory heterosexuality is the assumption that women and men are innately attracted to each other emotionally and sexually and that heterosexuality is universal, a view that leads to an institutional inequality of power that privileges heterosexual males and denigrates women, especially lesbians.
On April 20, the National Day of Silence was observed in hundreds of schools across the country to protest the bullying and harassment of glbtq students. Now sponsored by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), the observance seeks to highlight the need for action to end bullying based on sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression in the nation's schools. A highlight of the 2012 observance was President Obama's endorsement of both the Safe Schools Improvement Act and the Student Non-Discrimination Act
The genesis of the Day of Silence was a class project at the University of Virginia in 1996. Assigned to create a non-violent protest event, students devised the Day of Silence to call attention to the situation of glbtq youth who are silent about their sexual orientation because of fear of harassment from classmates and lack of support from instructors and administrators.
The organizers of the original Day of Silence recognized the value of their endeavor and reached out to other colleges across the country: in 1997 the Day of Silence was observed at almost one hundred colleges and universities.
In 2001 GLSEN assumed the task of organizing the Day of Silence nationwide and expanding it to include students at high schools and middle schools. The need for awareness of the problems of glbtq teens is particularly acute: a survey conducted by GLSEN in 2005 revealed that eighty percent of glbtq students had suffered harassment at school and that over thirty percent had absented themselves for at least a day because of fear for their own safety.
Various accommodations are made for the Day of Silence. In some schools, students remain silent all day; in others, they participate in class but maintain silence during lunch hours. Students often carry cards explaining why they are not speaking.
At the end of the school day, some schools hold a "Breaking the Silence" event at which participants and others have the opportunity to reflect on their experiences. Glbtq students can express themselves in a safe environment, and potential allies can ask questions and learn valuable lessons about the terrible harm caused by prejudice, harassment, and bullying.
In 2012, the Day of Silence was observed at the White House by screening Lee Hirsch's film Bully, which documents peer-to-peer bullying in schools across the country.
Soon after the film was shown to an audience of activists, the White House announced that "The President . . . is proud to support the Student Non-Discrimination Act, introduced by Senator [Al] Franken and Congressman [Jared] Polis, and the Safe Schools Improvement Act, introduced by Senator [Bob] Casey and Congresswoman Linda Sanchez. These bills will help ensure that all students are safe and healthy and can learn in environments free from discrimination, bullying, and harassment."
Following are some videos in which students explain the Day of Silence.
Below is a trailer for the documentary Bully.