NEW YORK – Lance Bass doesn't want others to stay silent as he did.
So he's made a public service announcement for the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN). The spot, which is being distributed virally Friday, debuts in advance of the 11th annual National Day of Silence on April 25, when students take a vow of silence to protest bullying, harassment and discrimination in schools.
"I think it's time for me to stand up ... and help educate, because I'm lucky enough to have been given a voice to be able to talk and grab the attention of people," said the 28-year-old singer, who's gay.
"Everyday, thousands of students are silenced. They're silenced by fear, they're silenced for being who they are. ... They're brothers, they're sisters, they're gay, they're straight, they're you, they're me."
Bass, who recently completed a stint in the Broadway musical "Hairspray" and released a memoir, said the PSA is meant to honor Lawrence King — a 15-year-old student was shot and killed in February in Oxnard, Calif., by a younger boy because he arrived at school in feminine attire.
"I heard about Lawrence on the news, and it was just incredible to me that kids that age that would have such an issue ... with the subject of being gay," said Bass, who was part of the boy band 'N Sync. "It also shows me that these kids don't — they don't learn (bigotry) on their own. ... They're being told by older siblings or family members or other fellow students."
Bass — who joined 'N Sync in 1995 with Justin Timberlake, JC Chasez, Joey Fatone and Chris Kirkpatrick — announced in July 2006 that he's gay. It took him a while to come out. ('N Sync went on hiatus in 2002 and has virtually disbanded now that Justin Timberlake's career has taken off.)
"I was very scared of ruining my four best friends' careers," he said. "The ignorance in me thought that if I did reveal that, that our whole life would crash and the group would end because everyone would hate us. But now I see how stupid that was, and I wish I could go back and be able to tell the world who I really was.
"And I think it would have been fine. My fans have always still stood by me, and they haven't changed. And I think it would have been great to be able to come out (at) the height of like the 'N Sync heyday — I think it could have helped a lot of people."
On a lighter note: Will there ever be an 'N Sync reunion?
"There's always a chance that 'N Sync will do another album," he said. "I am totally game, I would love to. I mean, the best times of my life were with those guys."