Category Archives: Spirit Day

Spirit Day…time to take a stand for kids.

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

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It’s Spirit Day…I’ve got my purple on.

First of all, what is Spirit Day? This is what it says on the website.

Spirit Day began in 2010 as a way to show support for LGBT youth and take a stand against bullying. Following a string of high-profile suicide deaths of gay teens in 2010, GLAAD worked to involve millions of teachers, workplaces, celebrities, media outlets and students in going purple on social media or wearing purple, a color that symbolizes spirit on the rainbow flag.

Spirit Day now occurs every year on the third Thursday in October, during National Bullying Prevention Month, and has become the most visible day of support for LGBT youth.

An amazing teenager, Brittany McMillan, wanted to remember those young people who lost their lives to suicide and to take a stand against bullying.

Now, for the hard part. Why do I care? I’m not gay, neither is my child. I don’t know anyone who has committed suicide over being bullied (that I know of anyway), so why does it strike such a chord in my heart? Why does it bother me so much?

Because it should bother all of us.

No child should ever be made to feel like dying is the only way to escape a terrifying, miserable situation. It doesn’t matter if you are being bullied by strangers, other kids at school or someone in your family, you should never be made to feel like you are facing it all alone.

I was bullied as a kid. I can still vividly remember what it felt like standing in the middle of that school playground, surrounded by kids, even some that I considered to be friends. I was taunted and called names and at some point, one of the kids knelt behind me and another pushed me backwards, causing me to fall. (Now I’m older, I realize they were kind of stupid. I fell hard on the kid behind me and elbowed him in the head.)

At that point, I’d never felt more alone in my life, although my other memory of that day was my little sister booking it for home as fast as she could run, screaming at my tormentors over her shoulder to leave me the hell alone. (Thanks sis). I’m sure it wasn’t more than about 15 minutes that I was stuck there, unable to get away, sobbing my heart out because I couldn’t figure out what I’d don’t to deserve that kind of treatment. I was a fat kid and that was about where my sins ended. I was a good person and a good friend. I liked everyone and would do anything to help someone out. I took care of my brother and sister, did okay in school and loved my folks. But, none of that mattered more to those kids in that circle than the fact that I was fat. Even now when I say it out loud, it sounds stupid to me.

My mom came to my rescue that day. When that car screeched up to the curb and she came flying across the field (in her slippers) threatening to beat the living crap out of every one of those kids, I’d never been so glad to see her.

I was lucky that day. Unfortunately, not every child is and for members of LGBTQ community, the chance that they will end up being bullied is even greater.

It drives me a little insane to think that someone could be literally bullied to death because of who they love. Shouldn’t we all be more worried about who people hate than who they love?

In my house, there is only three words that are completely banned. Everyone knows that saying them in my presence will most likely get you smacked up the back of the head and the power of my disappointment is even worse.

In my house, the f-word isn’t what you think it is. I say fuck on a daily basis (I’m working on it, okay?) but say the word “fag” or “faggot” and I will most likely escort you out of my house and probably my life (unless you actually are talking about a cigarette in Britain or a burning bundle of sticks, but you’d better clarify quickly).

In case you’re curious, the other two words I can’t stand? Cunt and nigger. The first one will get you smacked across the fact, no matter who you are, and the second will get you a huge lecture and then the whole escort out of my house thing. Those three words are probably the most disrespectful words than can be said and are only ever said to hurt.

And in my house, no one says “that’s so gay” because they know I will give them shit. Gay is not a synonym for stupid or dumb and I make sure everyone knows it.

So, what does this all have to do with my participation in Spirit Day? Because I can relate. What I went through as a kid was really nothing compared to what some kids face every damn day and there were times that I felt like I didn’t actually want to survive.

I wear purple every Spirit Day along with my rainbow bracelet and my HRC pin (ok, I wear the last two most days) and when anyone asks, I tell them about Spirit Day and kids like Tyler Clementi, Blake Brockington, Jaime Hubley, Alexander McQueen, and Leelah Alcorn. I tell them about being lost and alone at a time when so much is happening in life and how I’m saddened that any life so bright can be snuffed out my bigotry, ignorance, cruelty and stupidity.

I tell people LGBTQ youth are 4 times more likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual peers and that these same youth are 8 times more likely to try killing themselves if they have been rejected by their families.

I also tell them that both victims and perpetrators of bullying are at a higher risk of suicide than their peers and children who are both victims and perpetrators of bullying are at the highest risk.

And I tell them if they know a youth who is a part of the LGBTQ community, whether a friend or family member or the kid down the street, they should always let them know they support them as they struggle their way toward adulthood. And you should remind them that eventually, things get better and they need to be around to see it.

I’m closing this out with this amazing video from Todrick Hall called “It Gets Better

I’m also adding one of the most beautiful renditions of “True Colors” I’ve ever heard. From the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles.

 

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Filed under bullying, Spirit Day, This is important.