For the fifth straight year, ThinkProgress is proud to show our support for LGBT youth and our opposition to bullying as part of the annual Spirit Day celebration. Along with our colleagues at the Center for American Progress and Center for American Progress Action Fund, we join millions of others who are wearing purple and calling for safe schools for all young people.
In 2010, the country was rocked by several high-profile suicide deaths — all gay teens who had experienced bullying in their schools. Teenager Brittany McMillan originated the idea for a day to remember those young people, choosing purple because it symbolizes “spirit” on the Pride Flag. With a goal very similar to the “It Gets Better” project, which Dan Savage started for the same reasons, Spirit Day has grown annually as celebrities, media personalities, athletes, corporations, faith leaders, and students and workers across the country show solidarity for LGBT youth.
Anti-LGBT bullying continues to plague the nation’s schools, and groups like the Tyler Clementi Foundation, named for one of the young people lost in 2010, are developing new strategies for making schools safer. When LGBT students have the support necessary to come out, their mental health improves and they do better in school.
Many young people turn to the internet for social support, and though they can encounter cyberbullying, on Spirit Day, they find social media decked out in purple in solidarity.