So, October 18, 2018 and for those of you who don’t know what that means I’ll give you a quick breakdown.
On the Pride flag, each color represents something different. Purple represents Spirit and on Spirit Day I wear purple to show that I stand with kids in the LGBTQ community (and everywhere) against bullying. Why? Here’s some quick stats from the GLAAD site.
85.2% of LGBTQ students report being verbally harassed.
63.5%of LGBTQ students report hearing homophobic remarks from teachers and/or school staff because of their gender expression.
57% of LGBTQ students don’t report bullying or harassment because they don’t feel like anything will be done about it which will just make things worse for them. That same amount of students don’t feel safe in school.
63.5%of LGBTQ students who did report an incident said that school staff did nothing in response or told the student to ignore it.
Now these are American statistics but that doesn’t mean it’s not happening here in Canada. Around the world there are places where things are much, much worse.
No student should be afraid to go to school. It’s as simple as that. School (especially in grades 1-12) should be a safe place for kids to learn. If you think otherwise, I doubt you have ever been bullied.
I hear people say “kids gotta learn to be tough, stand up for themselves” but when you are systematically beaten down, mentally and physically on a regular basis, it’s hard to find the strength.
I was bullied in school, in elementary mostly. Not because of my sexual orientation, but for other things. It made me hate school and try everything I could to be there as little as possible. By the time I hit high school, I hated it with every fiber of my being. I went and did my best, but when you don’t want to be there, it’s hard to concentrate on your grades.
In high school, the torment was different. I wasn’t bullied physically, but I was ignored. I might as well have not existed because no one every saw me. I spent all my time there alone, watching people go by me like I was a ghost. I know I wasn’t the only ghost there, but by that time I was so hurt and angry, I’d decided that I’d stick with the few friends I’d made outside of school, because I wasn’t giving anyone anymore ammunition to use against me.
There were days when wishing I wasn’t there took on a different meaning and while I contemplated a more dire escape on a few occasions, the thought of my family suffering because of me kept me going. I was lucky…some kids aren’t.
Some kids are being bullied to death…literally. They find themselves so ostracized and alone that they will do anything to escape the pain. To adults it sometimes seems silly and dramatic but if you take a step back and try and remember what it was like for you back in school maybe you’ll see things from a different point of view.
When you are young, everything feels so big and out of control. I watch my daughter and see the drama going on between her and her friends and it breaks my heart so many times to see how scary things are for them.
I can’t even begin to imagine throwing in trying to figure out your sexual identity on top of all that.
My girl is pansexual. Basically that means she’s gender-blind (as she says) when it comes to romantic attraction. She’s had boyfriends and a girlfriend and she’s confident in herself because her father and I have made it clear that as long as they treat her right, we don’t care who she dates. Just don’t miss curfew.
There are so many kids in Meghan’s situation who are struggling to figure things out and when your peers are doing their best to make your life miserable, it can lead to desperate situations. Life and death situations and that’s what people who support Spirit Day are trying to stop.
If you have a kid in your life who’s a member of the LGTBQ community, talk to them. Ask them how things are going, see if they need some help. Look at that child and think about how you would feel if they were no longer there because that’s the reality that a lot of people are facing.
If you are a kid you can help too. If you know someone needs help, offer it. Or tell someone who can.
And if you need help, ask for it. I know it’s scary but you can do it. Reach out to me or to anyone you think might listen. Find the helpline for your area, look for an LGTBQ organization in your community or call the suicide prevention hotline for your country. Please don’t give up, there are people who care about you.
Most of all, on October 18, wear Purple. Be a visible reminder to kids who need help that you stand with them. You never know how close they could be to you.
Link to GLAAD Spirit Day info: here