National Spirit Day, the most prominent day of support for LGBTQ youth, was started in 2010 by Brittany McMillan, who wanted to take a stand against bullying and remember gay teens who had died by suicide, in order to increase awareness and acceptance and to prevent more tragedies. This was at a time of heightened media focus on the suicides of gay teens, and the death of Tyler Clementi directly inspired the creation of the holiday. The day is led by GLAAD, who on the first year helped to get teachers, students, workplaces, media outlets, and celebrities to wear purple and to "go purple" on social media. Today, participants include a wide range of people and groups—schools, students, and parents; corporations and organizations; media professionals; celebrities; faith groups; sports groups; and more. The day is held on the third Thursday in October each year, during National Bullying Prevention Month.
LGBTQ youth disproportionately face bullying and harassment on account of their identities. Most are verbally harassed, have felt that incidents of bullying weren't addressed after they reported them, have heard homophobic remarks from teachers and school staff, and feel unsafe at school because of their sexual orientation. Those participating in the day speak out against bullying and stand with LGBTQ youth, to show their commitment to ensuring that youth are able to live their lives safely and authentically. Purple is the color on the rainbow flag that symbolizes spirit, and by "going purple," participants in the day visibly show their solidarity with LGBTQ youth.
How to Observe Spirit Day
Participate in Spirit Day by wearing purple, and by telling people why you are doing so and what the story behind the day is. You could also "go purple" on social media, by using the hashtag #SpiritDay, by taking selfies of yourself wearing purple, and by using the purple GLAAD frame—which is available on the Spirit Day website. The day's website also gives you the opportunity to take a pledge to go purple and to donate to the Spirit Day fund. The money from the fund goes to support GLAAD in their efforts to stop bullying and protect LGBTQ youth and helps to make more people aware of Spirit Day.
If you wish to participate more actively than just wearing purple or going purple online, you could work to get friends, classmates, colleagues, local media, public officials, and others involved in the day. The day's website has a resource kit you could download to assist you in getting more people involved. You could ask your school or university to take part and could do the same of your public officials. You could encourage local media outlets to cover the day, and contact businesses and organizations and ask them to participate. You could also organize and hold an event at a community center, college campus, or another public area, where people could wear people and focus on issues related to LBGTQ youth and bullying.