According to the Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network, 85.2% of LGBTQ students have been verbally harassed because of their sexual orientation, and more than half have been verbally harassed because of their gender expression. More than half of LGBTQ students feel unsafe at school because of their sexual orientation and more than half of LGBTQ students have heard homophobic remarks from teachers and/or school staff because of their sexual orientation.
Upon hearing these statistics, many of us feel both heartbroken and helpless. This bullying is not okay, but what can we possibly do to put an end to it? That is why Spirit Day was created!
GLAAD, an organization founded by LGBTQ people in the media, says on their website, “Spirit Day is a means of speaking out against LGBTQ bullying and standing with LGBTQ youth, who disproportionately face bullying and harassment because of their identities.” This year’s Spirit Day is Thursday, October 19th, and we encourage all of you to do your part and stand up against bullying. Here’s just a few ways to start:
It’s officially #SpiritDay on the East Coast, fam!
— GLAAD (@glaad) October 19, 2017
1. Wear purple
Wearing purple all day is one of the most visible ways to show your support for LGBTQ youth, Alexandra Bolles, Assistant Director of Campaigns and Public Engagement at GLAAD told Her Campus. According to GLAAD’s website, “pledging to ‘go purple’ on Spirit Day is a way for everyone — forward-thinking companies, global leaders, respected celebrities, neighbors, parents, classmates, and friends — to visibly show solidarity with LGBTQ youth and to take part in the largest, most visible anti-bullying campaign in the world.”
Spirit Day is a day that your outfit choice can really make a difference, so make sure you use this opportunity!
2. Use #SpiritDay
Bolles encourages students to post on social media using #SpiritDay “to send a tangible message of support for LGBTQ students online and in real life.” Not sure what to post? GLAAD’s website has a resource page full of stats and data that can make an impactful and moving caption. If hearing the stats on bullying towards LGBTQ motivated you to make a difference, it will probably do the same for your followers. A selfie in your purple shirt paired with a meaningful caption that shows your support could make all the difference!
3. Extend your efforts past Spirit Day!
Obviously, LGBTQ students are bullied year-round, not just on Spirit Day. Your efforts should reflect this! Bolles says, “To go the extra mile, team up with your school’s LGBTQ center or club to strategize lasting ways to make your campus safer for LGBTQ students all year-round.” In any situation where individuals are victimized, it’s super important to have allies. If your goal is to minimize bullying and create a safer, more loving campus, then that effort should be year-round. You should definitely aim to be an ally in your daily life, but if you want to do more than that, then definitely check out student or campus organizations that support LGBTQ students and see if there’s anything you can do!
4. Be inclusive.
This should go without saying, but sometimes we seem to forget. Just because someone doesn’t fit into your stereotype of a LGBTQ individual doesn’t mean that they’re not just as worthy of love! If we aim to foster a community of acceptance, then we need to be at the forefront of that, loving everyone no matter how they’re viewed in our society.
Bolles said it best: “In anything you do around Spirit Day, remember that the LGBTQ community includes all genders, races, religions, nationalities, abilities, ages, and more, so aim to be inclusive, safe, and affirming of everyone.”