On October 17, we celebrate Spirit Day, which was created to raise awareness about anti-LGBT bullying and harassment. Canadian teenager Brittany McMillan initiated the celebration in 2010 in response to a spate of teen suicides that gripped headlines, prompting a new national awareness about how gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender teens are bullied in schools.
For the third year in a row, ThinkProgress is proud to partner with GLAAD in celebrating Spirit Day, joining the likes of Oprah Winfrey, Major League Baseball, Coca-Cola, the New York Stock Exchange, and thousands of other organizations and celebrities — and of course students, educators, and families — who are wearing purple to show LGBT young people that they are not alone. Not only is our team all wearing purple today, but we’ve even turned our Twitter avatar purple in solidarity.
At the core of progressive thinking is the belief that all people deserve an equitable chance to thrive in society. According to a 2011 study from GLSEN, 82 percent of students still experience verbal harassment because of their sexual orientation. Nearly half of LGBT youth have reported being cyberbullied or otherwise harassed online. Some schools have such a chilly climate that LGBT teachers are afraid to call out homophobia in the classroom because they fear being outed or becoming victims of harassment themselves. Everybody deserves the opportunity to learn, to work, and to live without being subjected to such harassment, and only by educating away the fear of LGBT people can equality truly be achieved.