According to GLAAD, 85% of LGBTQ youth are verbally harassed. When they report this bullying, 63% of these teens are ignored by school staff or told they should just ignore how they’re being treated. Spirit Day history begins with LGBTQ adults and allies wanting to support these at-risk youth in a public way.
Here are three fast facts that you need to know about Spirit Day 2017:
1. What Is Spirit Day?
Spirit Day origin started as a way for people to demonstrate their support for LGBTQ youth during National Bullying Prevention Month. The event takes place the third Thursday in October. On Spirit Day, parents, classmates, friends, and public personalities (global leaders, businesses, and celebrities) choose to wear purple as a visible way to show solidarity with LGBTQ youth who are often bullied and harassed because of their identity. In addition to wearing purple, people are encouraged to turn their social media accounts purple as well. It is thought that this is the most visible anti-bullying campaign in the world.
2. Where Did it Come From?
Spirit Day origin started in 2010 after several high-profile suicides of LGBTQ youth including Tyler Clementi. Clementi, a freshman at Rutgers University, committed suicide after he was publically outed by his roommate on Twitter. To honor their memory, people were encouraged to wear purple, the color that stands for pride on the gay pride flag. The event has grown every year. Now, large corporations, celebrities, sports teams, and non-profits all participate in Spirit Day.
3. Who Started Spirit Day?
Spirit Day history begins with Brittany McMillian. Inspired by Canada’s Pink Shirt Day, she wrote a viral post in 2010 encouraging people to wear purple in support of bullied LGBTQ youth. The post was seen by GLAAD, who worked with McMillian to make Spirit Day a yearly event. McMillian, who is now the event’s ambassador, says, "Ultimately, I want Spirit Day to make just one person feel a little better about his or herself, to feel safe enough in their own skin to be proud of who they are." The ultimate purpose of Spirit Day is to help LGBTQ youth gain confidence enough to live authentically.
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