Spirit Day is an annual day in October when millions of Americans stand up and speak out against bullying and to show their support for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) youth. If you see someone wearing purple today – go ahead and ask them if they are doing it for Spirit Day and if they aren’t, them tell them about it.
Some people might blow it off and think nothing of the day. They may not think or may not understand why it is so necessary.
A while back, many of us here at ChicagoNow, including myself, wrote about our experiences being bullied. Though I was not bullied for being transgender, I know all too well what bullying can do to a person. As I struggled to put to words why Spirit Day is so important, I couldn’t decide in which direction to go.
Do I go negative and write a cheap shot about the despicable, hurtful, ignorant language of Laurie Higgins of the Illinois Family Institute in reaction to the East Aurora School Board enacting policies to protect transgender youth?
Do I do a more positive piece and write how this policy really could go a long way in ensuring that transgender youth on the East side of Aurora, Illinois will have a healthy environment to learn and grow?
Do I write another blog about how many more people need to be educated on what it means to be gay and transgender?
Or do I simply let the statistics speak for themselves? If you are a regular reader, you’ll know that I use statistics often. For me, numbers speak pretty loudly – because I’m one of them. The harassment, the depression, the isolation – the suicidal thoughts – It was me for a good portion of my life.
- 36.5% of LGB high school students attempt suicide. Transgender students are 5 times more likely to attempt suicide than their peers
- 84% of LGBT youth report being harassed verbally based on their gender identity or sexual orientation.
- Nearly 85% of LGBT students state that when reporting harassment, faculty and staff either never or seldom ever intervened to stop the harassment.
- Over 60% of LGBT students have reported feeling unsafe in their school environment
- 74% of transgender youth reported being sexually harassed at school
- 41% of youth that identify as LGBT feel they live in a community that is not accepting.
- And last –students that are continually physically harassed tend to have a lower GPA, about a half percentage point, than their peers.
Please, I am asking you not to be a bystander! Behind each one of these numbers is a child - a child that is in need of our love and support as a community – a child that needs to know that there are people that care. Regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, they should feel safe in their schools and community. They should know that we will stand along side them against the bullies!