NFL goes big on Spirit Day to support LGBTQ youth

The National Football League has taken a stand against anti-LGBTQ bullying in their support of Spirit Day. Only a few days after the league announced their new Pride initiative, NFL participated in Spirit Day and went all out to support LGBTQ youth.

Spirit Day festivities kicked off the day before on “Good Morning Football” where GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis discussed the global anti-bullying campaign. Ellis also provided tips for coaches on how to create a safe environment for LGBTQ athletes. The “Good Morning Football” studio and its anchors wore purple a day early to raise awareness for the largest and most visible anti-bullying campaign. 

NFL veteran and defensive end Ryan Russell, who is openly bisexual, showed his support for LGBTQ youth on Twitter. Russell also appeared on NFL All Access to discuss inclusivity in football.

NFL's pride initiative is a robust effort to transform the conversation around LGBTQ inclusivity in football and sports. Fans can visit - a site prominently featured on - to see video and written content of NFL players and league members sharing positive and powerful LGBTQ stories and calls. NFL players and officials also created a video for National Coming Out Day featuring out former players Ryan O’Callahan, Jeff Rohrer, Ryan Russell and Wade Davis saying: “To all current players who are thinking of coming out, when you are ready, so are we." Several NFL players including Rob Gronkowski, Jarvis Landry, Dalton Risner, Marlon Humphrey, and DeAndre Hopkins voice their support for gay or bi teammates who come out, saying: “I support you, I got you, we got you, we support you, it takes all of us, and you deserve to be all you.”

2020 had already been a monumental year for LGBTQ people and football as Katie Sowers, an assistant coach for the San Francisco 49ers, became the first female and openly LGBTQ coach in the Super Bowl. The NFL continues to move the needle toward full LGBTQ acceptance and shows that being yourself is the best thing you can be.

About Spirit Day

Each year, millions go purple for GLAAD’s Spirit Day to support LGBTQ youth in a united stand against bullying. Started in 2010 by high school student Brittany McMillan in response to numerous young LGBTQ lives lost to suicide, Spirit Day now draws the participation of celebrities, schools, faith institutions, national landmarks, corporations, media outlets, sports leagues, and advocates around the world, all joining together to stand against bullying and support LGBTQ youth.

Presenting partners Delta Air Lines, Kellogg Company, and Target, official partners Amazon, NYC Department of Youth and Community Development and the New York City Council, and Skittles, as well as community partners Kirkland & Ellis, NBA & WNBA will all participate in 2020 Spirit Day.

In 2020, Spirit Day takes on a renewed importance due to the unprecedented challenges facing LGBTQ youth. This year, many LGBTQ youth are beginning the school year at home and are unable to attend in-person meetings of Gay-Straight Alliances, Gender-Sexuality Alliances or on-campus college LGBTQ organizations. Some LGBTQ youth may be confined to a home environment that may be unsupportive or abusive. Calls to The Trevor Project’s hotline for LGBTQ youth have at times more than doubled since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

This year, Spirit Day is on October 15, 2020. Take the Spirit Day pledge to show LGBTQ youth you've got their backs at Follow @GLAAD on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram to keep up to date with #SpiritDay news.