Last week, my Facebook profile was purple. So was my Twitter icon. Why?
And what was that Spirit Day that many used as a hashtag?
History of Spirit Day…
Spirit Day began in 2010 by Brittany McMillan, a Canadian teenager who wanted to show her solidarity and support for LGBT youth by wearing purple. Spirit Day commemorates young LGBT people who have lost their lives to suicide. The color purple is intertwined with Spirit Day and is represented in the rainbow flag.
Always celebrated on the third week of October, Spirit Day falls during National Bullying Prevention Month. Started by GLAAD (formerly Gay & Lesbian Alliance against Defamation, but now has a focus on advocating for Bisexual and Transgender), Spirit Day is now a global event.
Why We Need Spirit Day
According to www.mental health america.net/bullying and LGBT youth/ LGBT teens have to deal with harassment, threats, and violence directed at them on a daily basis.
• Out of fear, 60% of LGBT students did NOT report incidents to school.
• One-third who reported an incident said the staff did nothing in response.
• LGBT youth are nearly twice as likely to be called names verbally, harassed or physically assaulted at school compared to non-LGBT peers.
The 2011 National School Climate Survey reported:
• LGBT youth are more than twice as likely to experiment with drugs and alcohol.
• Only 37% of LGBT youth report being happy.
• With each instance of verbal or physical harassment, the risk of self-harm among LGBT youth is 2 ½ times more likely.
• LGBT youth are four times more likely to attempt suicide than heterosexual peers if frequently harassed.
• LGBT youth have lower grade point averages if harassed.
• One-third skip school one day per month due to feeling unsafe on school premises.
However, if LGBT students had allies in the school staff,
• Their school staff intervened twice as often in schools with comprehensive bullying/harassment policies.
• The LGBT students had higher GPA’s if their school staff consisted or six or more professionals and were supportive.
When Your Child Is Gay: What You Need To Know
For more detailed advice, see book, co-authored with a mother of a gay son and a psychiatrist, Jonathan L. Tobkes, M.D.