You may have noticed many celebrities, companies, and news channels have turned purple--at least for today. That's because October 19th is annual Spirit Day, a day for speaking out against LGBTQ bullying and standing with LGBTQ youth, who disproportionately face bullying and harassment because of their identities. Judging by the angst 2017 has brought, it seems like we need every day to be Spirit Day.
In the world we're living in, the onslaught of negative energy that comes in through the media is creating a sense of desperation and hopelessness. Be it the recent natural disasters that have directly or indirectly affected all of us, the constant mass shootings that are occurring all over the nation, or hate crimes that are committed on a daily basis--our society is yearning for change. We NEED change.
The LGBTQ community, among many other marginalized groups, still has some insurmountable hurdles to clear. In a political climate where ridicule has become a part of a platform for hurting citizens that laws were meant to protect, thus setting precedence for the way we interact with one another. Bullying strips individuals, regardless of identity, of their security and liberties. It creates hostility that could have been avoided because of the privilege of others interfering with our right to unapologetically be who we are. It leads to self-harm, suicide, and other lashing out to society--a ripple effect that we don't realize comes from a very personal place as a response to feeling inferior.
Today's youth are living during some of the most difficult times. With social media and the internet at our fingertips, digital attacks have become a standard for anyone attempting to have a voice or presence.
According to GLAAD (Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation), bullying is one of the leading issues in LGBTQ youth today:
- 85.2% of students of LGBTQ students report being verbally harassed
- 63.5% of LGBTQ students report hearing homophobic remarks from teachers and/or school staff because of their gender expression
- 57.6% of LGBTQ students did not report experiences of bullying because they doubted an intervention
- 57.6% of LGBTQ students feel unsafe at school because of their sexual orientation
- 48.6% of LGBTQ students have experience cyberbullying
- 63.5% of LGBTQ students who did report an incident said that school staff did nothing in response or told the student to ignore it
These statistics are mind-boggling and further perpetuate the disruption in our communities, families, jobs, schools, and world.
In an effort to cause a positive shift in the LGBTQ community and beyond, today we celebrate and observe Spirit Day, an international movement of solidarity. With the support of GLAAD, Spirit Day began in 2010 as a response to the alarming number of LGBTQ lives lost to suicide--most of which were the cause of bullying or lack of acceptance.
GLAAD President & CEO, Sarah Kate Ellis, provided Instinct Magazine with an exclusive interview regarding Spirit Day and its vital role:
Bullying, or some form of it, has always existed. Why, in today’s world, do you feel that bullying is still so prevalent?
Right now, we need to look no further than the White House and the Trump administration to see how bullying is being normalized. As the President uses his bully pulpit to espouse and encourage divisive rhetoric, he puts targets on the backs of LGBTQ people, Muslims, immigrants, women, people of color, and all marginalized communities. These actions send a signal that bullying and discrimination are acceptable. It is our job to resist this every day, which is what Spirit Day is all about. This is the first year that the White House is not participating in Spirit Day, but we have more other high profile and diverse notables participating than ever before.
What does it mean to have so many partners and participants in Spirit Day?
This year we have unparalleled support from celebrities, landmarks, networks, athletes, brands, and organizations, including Wells Fargo, Kellogg’s, and stars like Halsey, Britney Spears, Sterling K. Brown, Laverne Cox, Celine Dion, and more. When young LGBTQ people see celebrities standing up for them, when Wells Fargo turns their Wells Fargo Duke Energy Center in Charlotte, North Carolina purple, that send a bold, much needed signal of love and acceptance to our LGBTQ youth.
Other than going purple on Spirit Day and donating, what else can people do?
Along with going purple and donating to show your support, we are asking people to stand up and speak out against anti-LGBTQ behavior and language wherever you see it, in schools, at work, or even among your friends and family. Also, tell people who are from marginalized communities who are in your life that they are supported and accepted for who they are.
Aside from Spirit Day, what does GLAAD do on a daily basis to eliminate bullying and protect LGBTQ youth?
GLAAD organizes a Campus Ambassadors program, a high-impact volunteer network of LGBTQ and ally college and university students who work with GLAAD and within their local communities to build an LGBTQ movement to accelerate acceptance and end hate and discrimination.
Additionally, GLAAD also works to make our digital spaces safer for LGBTQ youth. Spirit Day has a tremendous online presence, and one of the things we call attention to, and ask people to do year-round, is to stand up to the online bullying and harassment that disproportionally affects LGBTQ youth. We also work to make digital spaces like twitter, Instagram, and Facebook more inclusive, so that LGBTQ young people can recognize themselves and feel safe and accepted.
Spirit Day sponsors include Target, and Wells Fargo, as well official partners Johnson & Johnson, Liberty Mutual Insurance, NBA/WNBA, and Toyota Financial Services; supporting partners Barilla, Kellogg's, Kirkland & Ellis, and NFL.
Wells Fargo Vice President and LGBT Segment Leader, John Lake, shared with Instinct about Wells Fargo's involvement in Spirit Day:
Data from GLSEN shows that certain types of bullying against LGBTQ youth in educational settings have actually improved over the long term. We are proud to directly support efforts by GLSEN that have helped create this impact, such as building more affirming school environments through their Safe Space kits and Ready, Set, Respect curriculum. But we acknowledge there is still so much work to be done to build awareness for the issue and how anyone can make a difference. That’s where Spirit Day comes in.
This is Wells Fargo’s third year as a presenting sponsor of GLAAD’s Spirit Day platform. We are proud to help build awareness and momentum for their efforts – and so happy to see how it’s grown. For us it is a way to show our support for some of the most vulnerable members of our communities – and let them know we stand together with them as an ally.
We have been a sponsor of GLAAD’s work for over 20 years. As GLAAD grew Spirit Day from a small grassroots movement to a global, multi-channel platform, our own LGBT Team Member Network led the company in “going purple” every year. Moving to a leadership role as a presenting sponsor was a natural outgrowth of the momentum and excitement our own team members had created. We are proud to stand by other companies, institutions, public figures and people all over the world and go purple to show our commitment.
Over the past 30 years, we have donated over $50 million and countless volunteer hours to organizations dedicated to the LGBTQ community. This includes supporting partners such as GLSEN, Trevor Project, and True Colors Fund, all of which serve the critical needs of LGBTQ youth. Beyond Spirit Day, Wells Fargo is also a major sponsor of the Love Has No Labels campaign: a year-round national platform created by the Ad Council that aims to fight bias and prejudice, embrace differences, and put aside labels in the name of love. As part of the campaign, Wells Fargo has created content focused on “5 Ways to Prevent Bullying” that aims to promote a more accepting and inclusive environment, and encourage people to stand up against bullying. The campaign will be launching next Monday, October 23 – be sure to check it out at Wells Fargo Stories.
Today, Spirit Day is a day when millions go purple to stand up against bullying and to accelerate acceptance for LGBTQ kids, teens, and young adults. With a large number of corporate and non-profit partnerships, GLAAD, accompanied by countless celebrities aim to put an end to bullying. Along with many others, here are how some are taking a stand on #SpiritDay
And of course, we had to take a stand
Join in and go purple! Take a stand and let your voice be heard to bring an end to bullying and keep our LGBTQ youth safe.
For more information on Spirit Day and how GLAAD accelerates acceptance, visit http://glaad.org/spiritday