Stand proud and purple on Spirit Day

shutterstock_114356341-927x378Ignite the spirit of triumph this October for LGBT students in need.

October is National Bullying Prevention Month.

Spirit Day, observed on Thursday, Oct. 15,  mobilizes the community to stand up against bullying and honor the memory of those who lost their lives to bullying-related suicide.  Individuals are encouraged to wear purple, the color of “spirit” on the LGBT pride flag, to make a visible statement of support for LGBT youth.

Why do LGBT youth need such an especially high level of support?

  • 90% of LGBT youth will experience bullying this year, compared to 25% of non-LGBT youth.
  • Bullied LGBT youth miss five times as many school days as straight youth.
  • LGBT students are 4X as likely to attempt suicide.
  • Half of transgender youth consider suicide by age 18.  One quarter have already attempted it.

Every episode of bullying increases a child’s likelihood of self-harm and suicide.  Yet, most LGBT youth will not report bullying because nothing happens when they do.  In a recent survey, 61.6% of respondents said that school officials did nothing when they reported being harassed.  It’s time to stop doing nothing — and start doing and being more for our youth.

Spirit Day, founded by Brittany McMillan of Canada in 2010, began on Tumblr as a social media movement among high school students. Brittany’s goal was to remember those who chose suicide over continued bullying and call attention to a cultural crisis. Over the past five years, her voice has been heard loud and clear. The event has grown to include schools, national organizations, celebrities, government agencies, public officials, corporations, and even the White House.

“Ultimately, I want Spirit Day to make just one person feel a little bit better about his or herself, to feel safe enough in their own skin to be proud of who they are,” said Brittany McMillan, named one of The Advocate’s 40 Under 40 in 2012.  “There are quiet struggles happening all around you. Please reach out, because no one should feel like they don’t belong or don’t matter, especially not because of who they are.”

GLAAD, the long-time national sponsor of Spirit Day, offers online resource kits for students and parents/educators.  For the first time, Spirit Day will go international in 2015 with kits available in seven languages.

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What can you do to support Spirit Day?

  • Promote our #SpiritDay graphics on social media.   Watch our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages for great messages to share with your friends and family.
  • Hold your school or university accountable.  As an adult alumni, you can change the world for current students who feel they have no voice and no power.  Email them, Facebook them, or tweet them, but whatever you do, ask them how they plan to observe this annual event.
  • Download the #SpiritDay app.  Now available at both the Apple App Store and on Google Play, the app offers mobile resources, graphics and a tool for turning your personal photos purple on the go!
  • Visit and share the #SpiritDay Resource Kits.  Engage your personal and professional networks with strategic communications, including an Anti-Bullying Resource Kit, and extend the reach of this very important message.
  • Share your advice to youth in crisis.  What would you say to your younger self?  What would you say to a child currently experiencing bullying?  It’s never easy to revisit the painful moments of our youth, but we need to assure youth that it really does get better. Watch our Facebook page for a special campaign that will amplify your positive experience and give hope to someone in need!
  • Finally, wear purple on October 15 to honor those we’ve lost to bullying, and those we can still save.

If you are a youth currently experiencing bullying, if you feel unsafe in school, or if you are thinking about harming yourself, please know you are never alone.  Supportive allies are only a confidential, judgement-free phone call away:

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