By Jen McGuire
Oct 16, 2019
For the past nine years, the third Thursday in October is meant to be met with a sea of people wearing the color purple to celebrate and support young members of the LGBTQ community. While one way to show your support on Oct. 17 is by wearing purple, there are many others way you can participate in Spirit Day because LGBTQ youths still need to know they have our love and support, perhaps now more than ever.
Spirit Day was the brain child of Brittany McMillan, who came up with the idea as a high school student back in 2010. At the time, McMillan was concerned over the rising number of deaths by suicide in the young LGBTQ community and wanted to show her support for those affected by wearing purple to school. She invited her friends to join her, and eventually GLAAD (Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) took up the reigns of the campaign McMillan started, as she explained to Fortune in 2018, as a way "to make just one person to feel better about his or herself, to feel safe in their own skin, and to be proud of who they are."
And GLAAD had carried on this message since then.
"Whether it be from elected officials in the White House, or from people in their own communities, LGBTQ youth are disproportionately affected by bullying on a daily basis," Mathew Lasky, Director of Communications at GLAAD tells Romper.
"Spirit Day is an opportunity to flip that narrative on its head and send millions of empowering messages to LGBTQ youth that they are loved, accepted, and valid. In a united stand against bullying, Spirit Day also sends a powerful statement to bullies everywhere that we refuse to live in a world where LGBTQ youth feel unsafe or unwelcome."
So how can you participate in Spirit Day and make someone feel safe, welcome, and loved? Here are a few ways:
One of the clearest ways you can participate in Spirit Day is to simply wear purple. Wear it to work or school or just anywhere you might be in public. Show the LGBTQ youth community — 70% of whom reported to GLAAD that they continue to get verbally harassed to this day — that you are in their corner with a simple fashion statement of purple.
Take The Pledge
You can do more than just wear your purple shirt on Spirit Day — you can also take the pledge to stand against bullying on the GLAAD website like millions of others. There is strength in numbers.
Change Your Profile Picture
If you want to extend your Spirit Day reach further than just the people you see in real life, you can actually change your Facebook profile picture to one with a purple theme or filter in honor of the 48% of LGBTQ youth who have reported suffering from cyberbullying to GLAAD.
Use Those Hashtags
When you participate in Spirit Day on Oct. 17, you can make a widespread impact by sharing everything you plan to do through the hashtag #SpiritDay.
GLAAD is an organization devoted to protecting the rights of the LGBTQ community, and paying to become a member is just another way to support Spirit Day by showing you're willing to put your money where your mouth is in the fight against discrimination.
And if you're feeling extra generous, you may also consider donating to the many other LGBTQ organizations fighting the good fight.
Bring The Gang
Encourage your friends and family to wear purple and explain why it's so important to show millions of LGBTQ people that they are not alone.
Do Your Research
It's important to try to understand exactly what the LGBTQ community goes through on a daily basis when it comes to prejudice. For instance, the Supreme Court is currently in the midst of making a potentially historic decision regarding federal protections for LGBTQ people in the workplace against discrimination, according to The Guardian.
Do a little research. Pay attention to what's going on in politics while you're wearing your purple shirt.
On Spirit Day and every other day of the year, practice empathy. Show the LGBTQ community that love is love, that you support their right to love who they choose and to be who they are.
The sea of purple can happen, and it should happen for more than just one day.