My name is Brittany McMillan, but you probably know me as the founder of Spirit Day. In 2010, I asked people all around the world to wear purple in support of LGBT youth who are being bullied and in memory of several LGBT-perceived teen suicides. The response that year was overwhelming and I expected not to have to do it again the next year. But along came September and I was reading about more LGBT teen suicides and I knew we had to run Spirit Day again. Now, Spirit Day has become an annual event and we are hoping you will participate again this year.
Over the past few years, I have learned so much through Spirit Day. I have heard the stories of teens who appreciated Spirit Day, for when they went to school and saw all the people around them wearing purple, they knew they were cared for. I have been told of teens who felt the courage to come out when they knew how much support they had. I have seen pictures of parents dressing their children in purple, teaching them early on about acceptance and equality. I have heard, first hand, the change in language in my own school environment.
Most importantly, I have seen a huge group of people come together for a cause. I have seen the amount of support they can gather and the number of people they can reach. I have seen how people can find the courage to stand up to bullying when they know they will be backed by their peers. I have seen the kid who used to bully and use homophobic slurs, stand up in a room of students and say he couldn’t wait to wear purple in support of LGBT youth.
And all of this is amazing to me. It’s incredible to see so many people taking a stand for what they believe in. And yet, it’s still not enough. People are still being excluded because of their orientation; they are still becoming victims of hate crimes. They are still facing the kind of bullying which we are trying to put an end to and it is not right. We cannot sit by and do nothing.
People are important. Everyone is important. Every person has special skills and talents and abilities that make them fundamental in their environments. They are loved and they deserve to be respected, no matter their age, race, orientation, religion or gender. As a teenager who is suffering from depression, I know how it feels like to want to die. I know what it’s like to look around at the people who love me and just think: this just isn’t worth it. It is our job to make people realize that it is worth it. Living is worth it and it will get better.
So on October 19th, wear purple. And on the days leading up to it, talk about Spirit Day, talk about equality and tolerance. Let people know that you are accepting and that you will not stand for bullying because the best way to start a movement is to get talking. Also this year, GLAAD and I have come up with some fantastic ideas and ways to take action and I’d encourage you to participate, as well as find your own ways to support Spirit Day. So we’ll keep you updated, but please, spread the word. You never know who just might need to hear it.
Thank you for your support,