Today is Spirit Day.
From the GLAAD website:
Millions of Americans wear purple on Spirit Day as a sign of support for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) youth and to speak out against bullying. Spirit Day was started in 2010 by teenager Brittany McMillan as a response to the young people who had taken their own lives. Observed annually on October 20, individuals, schools, organizations, corporations, media professionals and celebrities wear purple, which symbolizes spirit on the rainbow flag. Getting involved is easy -- participants are asked to simply "go purple" on October 20 as we work to create a world in which LGBT teens are celebrated and accepted for who they are.
I usually don't participate in these days where you wear something to support a cuase. Honestly, I think they are pretty useless. If you want to support a cause, donate money or donate your time. Wearing a certain shirt or posting something in your facebook status doesn't do anything to help cure the disease or make the bad thing go away.
But Spirit Day is different.
Being a gay teen isn't something like cancer that needs to be cured. It's something that needs to be supported. We need to show these LGBT teens that WE LOVE THEM FOR WHO THEY ARE, and, as a teacher, I think me making the choice to wear a purple sweater today does that. I think this is a day where just wearing a certain color can have a big impact.
It shows my LGBT students that someone here at school supports them. It shows my questioning students that there is someone here who wants them to be okay with themselves, no matter what. It gives kids who feel like they can't be open about who they are a smiling face to come to if they need a friend.
I love all of my students (yes, even the ones who drive me nuts), and I want them all to find happiness. I want them all to feel safe and loved and respected. And I want to make sure that they all know that.
My students have already noticed my purple. I got several high fives this morning from fellow purple-wearers. They know I'm on Team Equality, all because I chose to wear my purple sweater today.
A girl walked in to my zero period in puprle jeans, a purple tank top, a purple sweater, purple shoes, a purple purse, and a purple sign around her neck that said "I Am Anti-Gay Bullying." I swear, you guys, I had to fight back the tears when I saw her. Her choice in clothing had an enormous impact on me today, and I'm sure it will have an impact on other kids at school, because they know she is on her side. I think that's very powerful.
I don't think my sweater choice is going to end gay bullying, or suddenly make everyone at my very conservative high school completely accepting of all of the gay and quesitoning students here. That's going to take time and money and effort and it's not going to happen because we all wear the same color one day. But I do think that one or two kids will see me today and know that I love them for who they are. And the more purple they see on campus today, the more supported and loved and safe they will feel. I like being a part of that.
I hope you are wearing your purple for Spirit Day today!