Just imagine what the Big Apple can do on #SpiritDay

When the world’s largest anti-bullying campaign, Spirit Day, made New York its geographic heart and soul, the image of a city that welcomes LGBTQ youth got even brighter. In fact, the match made in heaven – supported in part by the New York City Council and the Department of Youth and Community Development – promoted acceptance when it was needed most. About 85% of transgender and nonbinary youth said recent debates around anti-trans bills negatively impacted their mental health. For them and their peers, GLAAD made sure the Day’s iconic purple color and affirmative presence in the Big Apple was virtually everywhere.

The New York City Council’s social media celebrated “#SpiritDay in support of LGBTQ youth across our city and country, and to get the word out about bullying prevention.” The New York State Department of Education pledged that “Today and every day, we support LGBTQ+ youth and stand up against bullying. #GoPurple to show your support!” The GLAAD Media Institute also hosted four trainings by New York City-based Vice President of the GLAAD Media Institute, Ross Murray.


New York elected officials posted support, including from Manhattan District Attorney, Danny Dromm; U.S. Representative of New York, Richie Torres (the first openly gay Afro-Latino elected to Congress); and New York State Attorney General, Leticia James (who’s own 2018 run for the office she now holds featured a strong pro-LGBTQ platform). Speaker Adrienne Adam was there, as well as Public Advocate Jummane D. Williams.


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New York’s iconic landmarks created some of the Day’s most visible displays. After a ceremonial lighting with RuPaul’s Drag Race contest and reality TV personality, Jujubee, the Empire State Building glowed in stately purple hues. Times Square billboards centered conversations on LGBTQ youth in the center of the city, including at 1500 Times Square – home to ABC’s Good Morning America. Other Times Square billboards displaying messages to connect LGBTQ youth showed up on M&M’s New York Jumbotron, and NASDAQ.

Broadcasts headquartered in New York City celebrated LGBTQ youth, with just a few examples including Good Morning America, ABC’s The View, The 3rd Hour of NBC’s “TODAY," and “TODAY.” NBC “News Now” also engaged GLAAD’s President & CEO, Sarah Kate Ellis in a conversation about the need to protect LGBTQ youth.

GLAAD’s brother and sister local nonprofits, such as The Door, informed viewers of the facts about bullying. Gotham Cheer, a community nonprofit adult cheerleading team helping local charities (and composed of diverse LGBTQ volunteers), was at the Empire State Building ceremony to kick off the celebration. The United Nations Free & Equal campaign’s web page reminded the world that “Young #LGBTIQ+ people are much more likely to experience bullying, abuse & isolation, which puts their health & well-being at risk.” The page also encouraged governments to champion diversity, repeal criminalization laws, and train teachers and school administration to address bullying.

New York City’s robust theater scene sang out On- and Off-Broadway, including the Tony Award Winning “A Strange Loop” and “Six,” as well as “This Beautiful Future” at the City’s oldest off-
Broadway venue, Cherry Lane Theater.

Spirit Day was a win among New York’s legendary sports teams and figures, from the New York Yankees and the Mets to the WNBA’s New York Liberty.

Since 2010, GLAAD has organized landmarks, faith groups, celebrities, media outlets, brands, colleges, sports leagues, school districts, and global organizations for Spirit Day. But in 2022, the Day’s message is as urgent as ever, as LGBTQ youth’s right to express themselves are increasingly challenged. The Big Apple stepped up by leaning into hope with messages from the Day that effectively say it all: #ChooseKindness, one popular hashtag advised. To echo another message from New York that was seen by young LGBTQ people and their families on October 20, 2022: “You Have a Seat at This Table.”

About Spirit Day:

America went purple for GLAAD’s Spirit Day in support of LGBTQ youth and taking a stand against bullying. GLAAD organizes hundreds of celebrities, media outlets, brands, landmarks, sports leagues, tech leaders, influencers, faith groups, school districts, organizations, colleges and universities in what has become the most visible anti-LGBTQ bullying campaign in the world. Purple symbolizes spirit on the rainbow flag. The annual tradition was started in 2010 by high school student Brittany McMillan, in memory of the LGBTQ youth who lost their lives to suicide. McMillian encouraged her friends to wear purple on a day in October -- a day that came to be known as Spirit Day. Presenting sponsors Kellogg’s, Sally Hansen and Visible with Community Sponsors NFL, Amazon Corporate Security, Kirkland & Ellis and L’Oreal/ Victor & Rolf participated in Spirit Day.

Today, LGBTQ youth, and especially our trans and nonbinary youth, are experiencing a level of scrutiny in schools we have never seen, leading to an environment rife with stressors beyond the peer-to-peer bullying of the past. From book bans to sports teams bans, to bathroom restrictions and teachers barred from using preferred pronouns, the means by which a student can express themselves and see others like them are increasingly being challenged.

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. This anti-LGBTQ rhetoric then translates to real-life harm and has been cited as drivers of many of the nearly 250 anti-LGBTQ bills introduced in states around the country this year alone, many of which target our LGBTQ youth.

This year, Spirit Day was on October 20, 2022 and offers LGBTQ youth and their families a means of representation and existence only made possible by providing life-saving visibility for those who need it more than ever. Take the Spirit Day pledge to show LGBTQ youth you've got their backs at glaad.org/spiritday. Follow @GLAAD on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and TikTok to keep up to date with #SpiritDay news.