As a bisexual Latina, I have faced my share of discrimination and bullying growing up. I was luckier than most because I had a group of close friends who not only knew about my sexual orientation but also stood by me. Not all lesbian, bisexual, gay, transgender and queer youth are as lucky, however, which is why today is Spirit Day — a day to go purple to “stand against bullying and in support of LGBTQ youth.” It’s a day to loudly and proudly say to all LGBTQ youth: We have your backs!
LGBTQ youth face bullying and harassment at disproportionately high levels because of their identities. According to GLAAD, who promoted the event to now be the biggest anti-bullying campaign in the world, 85.2% of LGBTQ youth report being verbally harassed, 63.5% of LGBTQ students report hearing homophobic remarks being spoken by teachers or school staff, 57.6% of LGBTQ students do not report bullying because they doubt officials will intervene and the same number feel unsafe at school because of their sexual orientation. And they were right: 63.5% of LGBTQ students who did report an incident said that school staff did nothing or told the student to ignore it. Meanwhile, almost half of LGBTQ students (48.6%) have experienced cyberbullying.
Are you in? I’m in ☝🏽 https://t.co/kdPlhChUJk
— Luis Fonsi (@LuisFonsi) October 12, 2017
Latinx LGBTQ youth face a unique set of challenges when it comes to their identity as well, according to a report by the HRC. Latinx LGBTQ youth are more likely to face discrimination within their own families or communities than their non-LGBTQ Latino peers, with one-third reporting that they lack family acceptance, and slightly less than half have an adult in their family that they can turn to when they are worried or sad (as opposed to 8 in 10 of their non-LGBTQ Latino peers who do have such an adult). Who can Latinx LGBTQ youth turn to when facing school bullying if there is also no support at home?
“The well-being of Latino LGBT youth is fostered by the support of family and trusted adults in their lives,” said HRC President Chad Griffin of the report. “We must do better in supporting LGBT youth who still fear rejection, being judged and ostracized in school and being rejected from their religious congregations and the broader community.”
The bullying faced by LGBTQ youth, Latinx and not, is precisely why Spirit Day is needed. Thankfully, there are several ways to participate: You can take the pledge, learn the facts, spread the word (such as tweeting today with the hashtag #SpiritDay or use the GLAAD Facebook Frame on your profile picture to show your support), go purple today and donate to the organization who makes it all happen. I’d only wish I had something like this back when I was a teen, but I am grateful that today’s LGBTQ youth can see me wearing purple and know that I have their backs against bullying.
Here is how some supporters are already celebrating today:
— EmbaMex Suiza (@EmbaMexSui) October 19, 2017
— Shadowhunters (@ShadowhuntersTV) October 19, 2017
— Sara Ramirez (@SaraRamirez) October 18, 2017
— Karen Rogers (@karenrogers6abc) October 19, 2017
— Will & Grace (@WillAndGrace) October 18, 2017