I could not decide if I should post this tomorrow or today, but then I decided that if you are like me, you might plan your wardrobe at least a day in advance, so I decided to give you a head start.
Millions wear purple on Spirit Day as a sign of support for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) youth and to speak out against bullying. Spirit Day was started in 2010 by high school student Brittany McMillan as a response to the young people who had taken their own lives. Observed annually, individuals, schools, organizations, corporations, media professionals and celebrities wear purple, which symbolizes spirit on the rainbow flag. Getting involved is easy -- participants are asked to simply "go purple" on October 17th as we work to create a world in which LGBT teens are celebrated and accepted for who they are. Learn more & go purple at www.glaad.org/spiritday.
Since I began teaching, whether as a professor's teaching assistant, a substitute teacher, college instructor, or currently, as a high school teacher, I have always had LGBT students who feel more comfortable around me than their peers or other teachers. Most of those students have never known whether I am gay or not, but there is an intuition that allows us to find each other (most call it gaydar). Some have come to me and confided in me; others are just more relaxed around me. I always do my best to make sure that I have a welcoming atmosphere for all of my students, and I fight bullying at every turn.
When I was a student in high school, I had no one with whom to discuss issues such as sexuality or feelings of same sex attraction. Though by college, I was pretty sure I understood those feelings and in my early grad school years I came out, I wish I had been able to go to someone with whom I could discuss these issues. Being alone with my internal struggles, I began in my teenage years battling depression, which I still battle today. As I have said before on this blog, my depression got to the point that at 16 I took a handful of prescription medicine to end the suffering. I thank God each day that my stomach rejected those pills and over several hours I vomited them out of my system. I was incredibly lucky and stupid. Too many LGBT youth are not as lucky as I was, and we lose them to suicide each year.
By wearing purple tomorrow, you will be showing your support for the LGBT youth in your area. Most people won't even realize why you are wearing purple, but as tech savvy as youth are today, the LGBT youth you come in contact with will most likely be aware of Spirit Day, so the subtlety of wearing purple will not go unnoticed by them. Sometimes that little bit of encouragement is all it takes for a kid to know that everything is going to be okay and that it does get better. Because of the politics of my school, I can't be out, but I can be supportive in more subtle ways and make their school experience, at least in my classroom, a little better.
Getting involved is easy: Wear purple or go purple online on October 17th and help create a world in which LGBT youth are celebrated and accepted for who they are.