According to a 2013 study cited by GLAAD (formerly the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation), 55.5 percent of LGBT students feel unsafe at school because of their sexual orientation. Another 38.7 percent feel unsafe at school because of their gender expression. While bullying is a potential problem for many young people, LGBT students are frequently targeted for abuse. Today, October 15, 2015, is Spirit Day. Spirit Day was first celebrated in 2010. The purpose of Spirit Day is to show LGBT youth that we support them and to help put a stop to the bullying that they must so often face. Supporters are asked to wear purple, as purple is the color symbolizing ‘spirit’ on the rainbow flag.
Many states have passed anti-bullying statutes in the past few years. While these laws offer varying levels of protection for the victims of bullying, they are not enough on their own to solve the problem. More than half of the LGBT students who experience bullying do not report it because they don’t believe anything will be done about it. Even more telling, 61.6 percent of LGBT students who reported bullying saw no action from school staff. Bullying laws are a nice start, but until students are shown that bullying won’t be tolerated by teachers, administrators and school boards, the problem will continue as it always has.
The problem cannot be allowed to go on the way it has in the past. A shocking percentage of LGBT students are physically harassed or assaulted because of their sexual orientation or gender expression. The effects of bullying are long lasting and substantial. The physical, emotional and even economic toll of bullying should not be underestimated. A hostile educational environment is the reality for countless LGBT young people. Spirit Day is an opportunity to express solidarity and make a commitment to help make the world a safer place for LGBT students.
Source: GLAAD, “Go purple on October 15, 2015 for #SpiritDay,” October 2015