Spirit Day is a commemoration originally created to recognize the disproportionate levels of bullying and harassment of LGBTQ youth. It is a time for people of all gender identities and orientations to unite against bullying.
We recognize that regardless of orientation, bullying is a harmful, serious problem among youth. Lately, much of the intimidation and overt violence has been focused on transgender people (the “T” in LGBTQ). The bullying has been condoned and encouraged by certain politicians and members of the clergy. There has been a very alarming epidemic of assaults and murders of transgender people in the United States and many areas in the world. It does not appear that this trend will be subsiding anytime soon.
This issue is very personal to me. I understand the harm that bullying causes. I was bullied throughout much of my childhood. Piecing my life together and recovery has been a lifelong project. I’ve often wondered how I would have turned out if I had not had to focus so much time trying to build my self-esteem and confidence. During the process, I have forgiven the bullies of my childhood, but have not forgotten who they were.
When we are all acknowledged as equals, regardless of orientation, ethnicity, age, race, gender, and outward appearance, there will be no place for bullying. Sometimes it seems like that day is far off. Today, the retrograde in attitudes, laws, and civil rights has become worse. Those of us who have been bullied in the past and those of us who are still treated as “less than” are not relaxing our efforts. Today, Spirit Day, is a pep rally for all oppressed and minority youth.
It is also a time to remember people across the spectrum of society who are bullied on the Web, at work, or on the street. The bullying can be discriminatory or overtly violent. Bullying is as common as dirt, but it never should be viewed as normal. Youth are speaking out and taking action to support each other regardless of who they are. Spirit Day is a reminder of this.
Spirit Day is one day when members of the community and our allies pledge to go purple as one way to show solidarity with youth in the largest anti-bullying campaign in the world. People who observe Spirit Day wear a purple article of clothing or pin or ribbon. I’m wearing my purple polo shirt to show my support.