October is National Bullying Prevention Month, and tomorrow (October 16th) is Spirit Day, when we go purple, joining millions of others as we stand against bullying, and show support for LGBTQ youth.
What’s the history?
In 2010, teen Brittany McMillan wanted to do something to honor young LGBTQ people who had lost their lives to suicide, and she asked her friends to wear purple to remember those young people. Since then, Spirit Day has turned into a global event as millions join in to stand against bullying, in solidarity with young LGBTQ people who may feel alone.
Why do we need a Spirit Day anyway?
Some stats on bullying of our LGBTQ youth*:
- 6 in 10 LGBT students reported feeling unsafe at school because of their sexual orientation; 4 in 10 reported feeling unsafe at school because of how they expressed their gender.
- More than 80% of students reported being verbally harassed (e.g., called names or threatened) at school because of their sexual orientation; nearly two thirds were verbally harassed because of their gender expression.
- 1 in 5 five students reported being physically assaulted (e.g., punched, kicked, or injured with a weapon) at school in the past year because of their sexual orientation, gender expression, or gender.
LGBTQ youth and suicide**:
Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death among young people ages 10 to 24.
LGB youth are 4 times more likely, and questioning youth are 3 times more likely, to attempt suicide as their straight peers.
Suicide attempts by LGB youth and questioning youth are 4 to 6 times more likely to result in injury, poisoning, or overdose that requires treatment from a doctor or nurse, compared to their straight peers.
Nearly half of young transgender people have seriously thought about taking their lives, and one quarter report having made a suicide attempt.
LGB youth who come from highly rejecting families are 8.4 times as likely to have attempted suicide as LGB peers who reported no or low levels of family rejection.
1 out of 6 students nationwide (grades 9-12) seriously considered suicide in the past year.
Suicide attempts are nearly two times higher among Black and Hispanic youth than White youth.
Each episode of LGBT victimization, such as physical or verbal harassment or abuse, increases the likelihood of self-harming behavior by 2.5 times on average.
Because purple is the color that symbolizes spirit on the rainbow flag.
There are several ways to get involved:
- Go Purple on social media: If you don’t want to mess around with filters on your photo software, here’s GLAAD’s convenient link that will take care of your social media pics for you:
- If you’re online– http://twibbon.com/support/spiritday
- If you’re on an iPhone– https://itunes.apple.com/app/id470661829
- If you’re on an Android phone– https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.glaad.spirit.day
- Wear purple on Thursday: Post your pictures of you in purple, and join The Marin Foundation’s community of Spirit Day celebrators with #tmfSpirtDay
- Talk about why you’re against bullying: Many of us have our own stories about times we were bullied– in schools, in the workplace, in spaces we thought were safe and later discovered weren’t. The thing about being bullied, is that it isolates the victims, makes them feel they’re alone. Share your own stories, listen to stories, let the youth in your life know that you’re a safe person. Together, we can send a message to our LGBTQ youth that they’re not alone.
More about Spirit Day:
* Stats from Kosciw, J. G., Greytak, E. A., Bartkiewicz, M. J., Boesen, M. J., & Palmer, N. A. (2012). The 2011 National School Climate Survey: The experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth in ournation’s schools. New York: GLSEN.
** Stats from several publications, as reported here: http://www.thetrevorproject.org/pages/facts-about-suicide