SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Millions of people around the world are preparing to take a stand against bullying and support youth who self-identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. It's part of an annual campaign called "Spirit Day."
This year, Spirit Day is on Oct. 20. As part of the campaign, people will wear the color purple to raise awareness about the impacts of LGBT youth bullying.
Bullying puts all youth at increased risk for depression and suicide.
For LGBT youth, the risk is even higher. According to the CDC, LGBT youth are more likely to be bullied than their straight cisgender peers.
CDC data also shows 43% of transgender youth have been bullied on school property. Meanwhile 29% of transgender youth, 21% of gay and lesbian youth, and 22% of bisexual youth have attempted suicide.
A 2021 report from The Trevor Project shows the majority of LGBT middle or high schoolers reported being bullied either in person or online in the past year. On top of that, only 1 in 3 found their home to be LGBT-affirming.
Chris Pangelina (He/ Him), who lives in Sacramento, identifies as queer. He says he's recognizing Spirit Day more than ever this year after experiencing bullying firsthand at a young age.
"Growing up as a queer child, there were instances where I experienced bullying at home," Pangelina said. "The bullying I experienced, primarily, came from my older brother in the form of name-calling and physical abuse, like hitting me, and embarrassment in front of other people. If you see something, say something. Speak up. You have a voice."
GLAAD is a nonprofit on a mission to support LGBT+ communities year-round. The organization explains "cyberbullying is at an all time high as well." GLAAD's 2022 Social Media Safety Index found severe harassment for LGBTQ users when compared to 2021.
"LGBTQ youth bullying is not okay," said Anthony Allen Ramos (He/Him), GLAAD Vice President of Communications and Talent. "We know that if kids feel supported and empowered to be who they are, and live their life authentically, then they will live much happier lives."
The LGBT Community Center in Sacramento works to create a region where LGBTQ+ people thrive. That includes supporting the health and wellness of the most marginalized, advocating for equality and justice, and working to build a culturally rich LGBTQ+ community.
In recognition of Spirit Day, the center is encouraging everyone to take a pledge against LGBT youth bullying.
"Allyship is an action word," said Alexis Sanchez (She/ Her), Director of Advocacy and Training at the LGBT Community Center. "It's important that people take the pledge because that shows LGBT youth that they have allies and people that are going to support them."
You can also learn more about the campaign and sign an online pledge against LGBT youth bullying at the GLAAD website.
The LGBT Community Center is offering ways you can participate in Spirit Day, you can find some of them below:
- Tell others how bullying impacted your life or the life of someone close to you
- Join the #SpiritDay conversation online and raise awareness around #LGBTQ bullying
- Educate your work and personal circles how to create safer environments for us all
- Wear purple and change your profile pic to support #SpiritDay with a custom Facebook frame
- Find out if your school has a GSA (Gay Straight Alliance)
- Talk with students about bullying year round
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