Today, October 15, is Spirit Day, GLAAD'S annual holiday to encourage allies to speak out against bullying and stand with LGBTQ youth. Organisations across the country, along with celebrities like Cher, Halle Berry, and JoJo are posting purple and wearing purple to make it clear that they have zero tolerance for anti-LGBTQ bullying.
"From the effects of COVID-19, to the social uprising against racial injustice and police brutality, to the Trump administration’s consistent attacks on LGBTQ people, this year has presented unprecedented challenges and crises, all of which continue to uniquely and disproportionately impact LGBTQ youth," GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis said in a press release. "At a time when LGBTQ youth may be isolating in homes that are not affirming or do not have access to their usual support systems, this year’s Spirit Day is a chance for LGBTQ people and allies to send messages of acceptance and support to LGBTQ youth when they need it most."
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 organisation for LGBTQ young people.
"I think we're starting to put together a picture of the factors that place LGBT youth at greater risk for suicide," Amy Green, PhD, director of research at The Trevor Project, previously told Refinery29. "We know that there's no one risk factor that causes an individual to attempt suicide, and there's also not going to be one factor that will prevent it. We need to invest in policies and programs and practices that support LGBTQ youth, and each one of us can do something to show youth that they are valued and that they are supported."
That could be something as simple as telling someone, 'I see you, I accept you, I support you, I care.' Green says that the simple act of telling someone that you accept them, that you care, can really make a big difference.
Spirit Day was founded in 2010 as a response to LGBTQ suicides, but you can stand up to harassment and support the community any day. Not sure where to start? Here's how to be an ally and safely stop bullying when you see it.