the voice and vision of a new generation
GLAAD

How you can support LGBTQ youth during National Bullying Prevention Month

October 1, 2019

For this year's National Bullying Prevention Month, take a stand against bullying and join Spirit Day; the largest and most visible LGBTQ anti-bullying campaign! Spirit Day shows LGBTQ youth and young people everywhere that they have a supportive community that is dedicated to ensuring they are all able to live authentically and without fear. On October 17, 2019 - during National Bullying Prevention Month - join millions around the world who will take the pledge to “go purple” on Spirit Day.

Click here to take the pledge to stand against bullying

Created in 2010 by high school student Brittany McMillan in response to numerous young LGBTQ lives lost to suicide, Spirit Day serves to raise awareness of and combat the harrassment and bullying experienced by LGBTQ youth. 

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services defines bullying as “unwanted, aggressive behavior among school-aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance.'' Bullying can include verbal harassment, physical harm, social exclusion, and cyber threats. Bullying behaviors are repeatable, targeted, and come with long-lasting consequences.

According to GLSEN’s 2017 National School Climate Survey, LGBTQ students experience bullying at a significantly higher rate than their non-LGBTQ peers. The survey reveals several worrying trends regarding the treatment of queer and transgender students in schools:

  • LGBTQ students feel unsafe at school -  59.5% of because of their sexual orientation, and 44.6% because of their gender expression

  • LGBTQ students are verbally harassed in schools - 70.1% because of their sexual orientation, and 59.1% because of their gender expression

  • LGBTQ students have heard homophobic remarks from teachers and/or school staff - 56.6% because of their sexual orientation, and 71% because of their gender expression

The effects of bullying on LGBTQ individuals are serious, complex and long-lasting. LGBTQ students report feeling unsafe when on school grounds, often resulting in missing a significant number of classes or dropping out because of the continuous harassment they face at school.  Not only is LGBTQ bullying linked to decreased levels of motivation for academic success, it is also linked to serious health disparities (including increased rates of suicide accempts, suicide medical attention, STD diagnosis and HIV risk). LGBTQ youth and adults that have experienced bullying display higher levels of overall psychological distress, depression, anxiety and alcohol abuse.

Join GLAAD’s various initiatives to tackle LGBTQ bullying on Spirit Day and throughout National Bullying Prevention Month. Pledge to go purple: Take the Spirit Day pledge right now at glaad.org/spiritday and then wear purple on October 17 in a stand against bullying. Encourage members of your community to do the same. While wearing purple at your job, in school, at church, or just around town - tell people why! Share the history and message of Spirit Day, and ask those around you to participate by wearing purple in a stand against bullying. You can also go purple online: Turn your Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram photos purple. 

To take action in your community make sure to take advantage of the Spirit Day Resource Guides: Download GLAAD’s resource kits to help you engage your friends, classmates, colleagues, local media, and public officials in Spirit Day.

  • Spirit Day Resource Kit (Click here for Spanish Language version): This resource kit includes information on the history and significance of Spirit Day, LGBTQ bullying statistics, and letter templates to engage your school, public officials and local media news outlets.

  • Anti-Bullying Resource Kit for Students: This resource kit includes background information on Spirit Day and anti-bullying resources, as well as how to stay safe on social media while sharing LGBTQ stories and promoting transgender equality.

  • Anti-Bullying Resource Kit for Parents and Educators: This resource kit includes background information on Spirit Day and anti-bullying resources, as well as how to support LGBTQ students and athletes in order to make your local school district more LGBTQ-inclusive and to prevent teen suicides.

Every year, GLAAD Campus Ambassadors bring Spirit Day to their local campuses in order to raise awareness for LGBTQ bullying and encourage their peers to take the pledge to go purple.  GLAAD Campus Ambassadors are a volunteer network of LGBTQ and ally college and university students who work with GLAAD to build an LGBTQ movement that will accelerate acceptance and end hate within their local communities and beyond. 

In previous years, GLAAD Campus Ambassadors took action to end bullying by creating powerful videos speaking out against bullying and hosting events to share messages of resilIence and hope with fellow LGBTQ youth. Here are a few of the incredible initiatives spearheaded by Campus Ambassadors:

  • Elena Piech, Avery Santiago, and Rosey Mulvey from Ithaca College held a photo campaign on campus, encouraging peers to take GLAAD’s pledge and to raise awareness for anti-LGBTQ harassment. Fun fact: Ithaca boasts the most GLAAD Campus Ambassadors of any school in the country, so everyday must feel like Spirit Day at IC!

  • Andrew Auh from UC San Diego created a photo campaign with his peers, sending positive affirmations to LGBTQ youth on Spirit Day. Click here to view the incredible photo series!

  • Jayson Bijak from the University of Houston taught a lesson of self-acceptance and pride by wearing purple on Spirit Day and reading Michael Hall’s book, 'Red', to students he teaches at a Texas public school. Click here to learn Jayson’s tips on how teachers can support trans students!

Join the movement to end bullying by visiting the Spirit Day website today to take the pledge and learn more about how you and your community can support LGBTQ youth.

Kleio Kartalis is the Youth Engagement Coordinator at GLAAD. She graduated from New York University in 2019 with a degree in Global Liberal Studies; Politics, Rights and Development, and is an alumna of the GLAAD Campus Ambassador Program.

the voice and vision of a new generation