Today is Spirit Day. When Gilbert Baker designed the first Pride flag in 1978, he was intentional about the meaning behind each color. Purple symbolizes the spirit. In 2010, a surge of reported LGBTQ teen suicides related to anti-LGBTQ bullying inspired then-teenager Brittany McMillian to start Spirit Day. People everywhere are encouraged to wear purple on the third Thursday of October to show support for LGBTQ youth and demand an end to bullying during National Bullying Prevention Month – which also happens to be LGBTQ History Month.
We fight back against bullying, suicide, and protect our youth by changing the culture. We must create and enforce LGBTQ-supportive policies at every level of education and childcare. We must connect with teachers and administrators who can ensure LGBTQ-inclusive curriculum is taught, bullying is addressed, and safer learning environments are created for all students. We must proactively provide access to resources for faculty, families, and youth so each can be their own agents of change.
In the San Diego region, our LGBTQ youth-serving organizations do our best to work collaboratively. Earlier this year, we collectively released an LGBTQ Youth Standards of Care document to provide people benchmarks, policies, and tools to improve the lives of our youth. Next month, we will host our annual Pride Youth Leadership Academy designed to put leadership tools in the hands of junior high through high school-age youth, their educators, and their guardians.
Each of us is responsible for ending the cycle of bullying and suicide. Each of us can confront bullies in our daily lives. Our legal protections, our future, and our youth require our active efforts to ensure their safety. Working against discrimination for this generation and the next is how our community and our movement will remain Resilient.
With Pride, Fernando Zweifach López Pronouns: They/Them/Theirs Executive Director San Diego Pride
Fernando Lopez is the Executive Director of San Diego Pride. Lopez’s years of LGBT advocacy, nonprofit management, public education, diversity consulting, media relations, guest lectures, and organizing have made them a consistent presence ensuring the struggles of the LGBT community are ever visible.