October 19 is Spirit Day, GLAAD'S annual holiday to encourage allies to speak out against bullying and stand with LGBTQ youth. Organizations across the country, along with celebrities like Kelly Ripa and Britney Spears, are going purple on social media and in their outfits to make it clear that they have zero tolerance for anti-LGBTQ bullying.
"Bullying is not a thing of the past," says Alexandra Bolles, GLAAD's associate director of campaigns and public engagement. "It's still very real, and it's even more widespread now with all of the digital platforms that can be used."
According to GLSEN's 2015 National School Climate Study, 85.2% of LGBTQ students reported being verbally harassed and 48.6% reported experiencing cyberbullying. And bullying can have serious consequences: LGBTQ youth contemplate suicide at three times the rate of heterosexual youth, and bullying is often one of the main reasons, said Amit Paley, CEO of the Trevor Project, a crisis intervention and suicide prevention organization for LGBTQ young people.
Spirit Day was founded in 2010 as a response to LGBTQ suicides, but you can stand up to harassment any day. Not sure where to start? Here's how to be an ally and safely stop bullying when you see it.