I don’t often write about really big, political, ideological issues on my blog because they don’t generally into the health and wellness genre that I’m passionate about, or do I feel well versed in those kinds of topics to say what I want to say. But, this post was on my heart, so I’m going with it, at risk of offending people, pissing people off, or losing readers. If I do, so be it. At it’s core, today’s post is about people and love, and it’s bigger that ideological beliefs.
Today is Spirit Day, an annual event to support for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) youth and to speak out against bullying. So, right now? We’re talking about kids being bullied for being who they are. Kids out on the playground, in the school lunchroom, or in their AP classes. Some of my family members, some of my dearest friends, some of my favorite people on this planet are members of the LGBT community. I will never know what it’s like to be in their shoes, but I know I love them just they way they are. I love them because they are people near and dear to my heart, not because of who they love. They are people who have deeply impacted my life in one way or another. Today, I take a stand. So, I’m speaking out, especially for those that don’t feel safe or ready to speak out for themselves. Remember, this is about more than just sexual orientation, we’re talking about people. We’re talking about showing people the love, grace, and kindness they deserve.
According to GLAAD, 82% of students report being verbally harassed in school because of their sexual orientation (source). That is not okay. Students feel unsafe in their own schools. That is not okay. Being a teen is hard enough, but it must be that much harder for LGBT youth who live in fear, who feel like they can’t be themselves. That is not okay. Precious lives come to an untimely end because of bullying and discrimination. That is not okay.
I’ve shared my story of how I was bullied in school for being pretty nerdy and overweight. I know firsthand how much bullying hurts deep into one’s core, and in the grand scheme of things, the bullying I experienced is pretty negligible. But, it still hurt because bullying is bullying. They are words and feelings that don’t go away. Time doesn’t heal all wounds, my friends. And my guess is that in the time since I’ve been in grade school, bullying hasn’t become a thing of love and grace. So, if I still remember words that were said to me because I was a teacher’s pet and bookworm and fat, I can’t even imagine how deeply words hurt and sink in so deep when they’re about someone’s deepest sense of identity.
In an article for the Huffington Post, 11-year-old Marcel Neergaard wrote about his experiences:
In fifth grade as I shuffled down the crowded halls, I feared at any second one of my classmates would attack me with names like “faggot” and “gayferd.” Who is supportive? Who isn’t? Will I lose friends? Who can I talk to? Those questions flashed across my mind with every step I took. That kind of fear can drive a person to suicide because it seems like the only way to quiet the pain. Especially in Christian communities like mine, it’s easy to assume everyone is unsupportive and feel lonely. Nobody can see inside the mind of a terrified young student, and nobody knows when they will reach their breaking point. By wearing purple on Spirit Day, these pained students will realize they have allies.
This accepting environment helps tormented youth step away from the cliff of suicide. To put it succinctly, wear purple, show you’re an ally and save live (source).
Today is about more than the debate on gay marriage, what the Bible does or doesn’t say about being gay, or any big, ugly, messy argument this kind of topic tends to turn into. No, Spirit Day is about taking a stand against bullying, no matter who the victim or what the reason, and supporting kids. That’s right, KIDS. Today is about love, about remembering that love is louder than hate. Today is about remembering that love wins. Today is about creating schools and communities where students can feel safe to be whoever they are.
Today, I’m wearing purple. Today, I’m taking a stand for my family and friends who are LGBT. Today, I’m taking a stand against bullying in ALL shapes and forms, and saying it’s not okay.
Millions wear purple on Spirit Day as a sign of support for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) youth and to speak out against bullying. Spirit Day was started in 2010 by high school student Brittany McMillan as a response to the young people who had taken their own lives. Observed annually, individuals, schools, organizations, corporations, media professionals and celebrities wear purple, which symbolizes spirit on the rainbow flag. Getting involved is easy — participants are asked to simply “go purple” on October 17th as we work to create a world in which LGBT teens are celebrated and accepted for who they are. Learn more & go purple at www.glaad.org/spiritday.