Spirit Day to Support LGBT Youths
On October 20, a phenomena was created on Facebook, that caught on with millions around the country. On October 20, designated as Spirit Day, persons were encouraged to wear purple, in memory of recent suicides by LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) youths, as well as those perceived as gay. It was also to show support to the millions of LGBT youths in the country, who often feel isolated and alone.
The idea for Spirit Day came about from a young woman in Canada, who started a group on Facebook, and it took off from there. People of all ages, from all over, wore purple on that day as a sign of solidarity, support, and purpose. No more suicides, it seemed to be saying.
For many of us, we can recall the times in our schools when they would designate Spirit Week, to support the home team. Spirit Day was built upon much the same premise, to show support by wearing the colors of the “team”; on the rainbow flag, the color purple stands for “spirit”.
It is only weeks ago that several youths, including Tyler Clemente, a freshman student at Rutgers University, took their own lives due to being harassed for being gay, or for being perceived as being gay. Although the situation in our nation has been improving for LGBT persons, many youths still experience harassment and bullying at the hands of their peers. In addition, many of those youths state that their schools and school personnel stood by and did nothing to stop the harassment.
There is more education that needs to occur in these settings, for students and administrators and staff alike. In order to stand up to the bullying and harassment, there must be a level of understanding of what it means to have an LGBT identity, and how to best support these youths.
One day, let us hope that Spirit Day will be to honor the contributions of those youths who are self identified as gay, rather than a memorial to those who left this world long before their time.