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Today is Spirit Day

Bullying is incredibly damaging and will not be tolerated

Today is Spirit Day (image: Pixabay)

It’s easy to be skeptical of annual days of observance — there seems to be a day for just about everything. But some of them are worth paying attention to.

Spirit Day is an annual day of observance that has been with us since 2010, it’s generally celebrated in mid–October. Spirit Day 2017 is being observed on 19th October.

Promoted by GLAAD (Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation), Spirit Day is when everyone around the world is encouraged to wear purple to show their support for young LGBT people who are victims of bullying.

Purple is the colour on the rainbow flag that represents spirit.

Is bullying still an issue for young people? Absolutely.

Your teenage years are a pretty tough and confusing time, no matter who you are. Young people who are gay or lesbian, or identify somewhere within the LGBT spectrum, have an extra level of complexity to grapple with.

GLAAD’s current research shows that 55.5% of LGBT students feel unsafe at school because of their sexual orientation. To feel unsafe at school is incredibly debilitating at such a key stage of development. Statistics like these give some insight into why the rate of suicide among LGBT young people remains so alarmingly high.

I was bullied at school. It was a humiliating experience. Everyone else seemed to know that I was gay before I did. I didn’t know how to cope with that – the more I tried to deny being gay, the worse it got. My coping mechanism was to withdraw into myself, to shut down, to shut other people out. I survived, but too many LGBT kids don’t.

Wearing purple for one day of the year may feel like it isn’t going to make much difference to anyone, but it is a powerful reminder that we all need to be aware of the people around us, paying particular attention to young people who might be feeling vulnerable as they navigate the minefield of growing up, realising that their sexuality is different to most other people.

We need to care for our young people every day of the year, but let’s use Spirit Day as a visual demonstration that bullying is incredibly damaging and will not be tolerated.

The pride flag flying proud on the beach at Gran Canaria, Spain. Photo: Gareth Johnson.

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