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.
Ending bullying is no small task. The most recent Trevor Project National Survey on LGBTQ Mental Health showed that “86% of LGBTQ folks said that recent politics have negatively impacted their wellbeing.” Bullying and harassment can surge at times like this when election cycles are ramping up, and anti-LGBTQ rhetoric is spewed out by campaigns, posted on social media, and parroted out by parents and guardians in homes.
We fight back against bullying and protect our youth by changing the culture. We must address the way media outlets represent our community. We must elect LGBTQ-supportive officials who will create and enforce LGBTQ-supportive policies at every level of government. We must connect with teachers and administrators who can ensure that the LGBTQ-inclusive curriculum is taught, that bullying is addressed, and that safe 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. We must also address the ways the media represent our community.
Each of us is responsible for ending the cycle of bullying. Each of us can confront LGBTQ bullies in our daily lives and at the ballot box. Our legal protections, our lives, and our youth require our active efforts to ensure their safety. Working against discrimination for this generation and the next is how Together We Rise.
Fernando Zweifach López
San Diego Pride
This year’s Youth Leadership Academy, designed to build leadership and advocacy skills for LGBTQ junior high- through high school-aged youth, has added a Parent & Caregiver track for the first time. Learn more and register here.