#SpiritDay: Today, We’re All Purple
Friday, October 19, 2012 by admin0 Responses

I remember September, 2010. 

I remember hearing about Billy Lucas, 15, who hanged himself in Indiana. Then Seth Walsh, 13, who hanged himself in California. 

I remember a nation finally waking up, bewildered, after Tyler Clementi, the 18 year-old Rutgers student, jumped off the George Washington Bridge because his roommate secretly recorded him fooling around with another guy. 

But it didn’t end.  That very next week, Asher Brown, 13, shot himself in the head in Texas; and Harrison Chase Brown (15), Raymond Chase (19), Felix Sacco (17) and Caleb Nolt (14) had all taken their lives. 

I’m sad that I cannot remember Cody J. Barker, 17, who hanged himself earlier in the month in Wisconsin, my home state. 

This rash of suicides by so many kids struck our nation at its core.  Finally, we were hearing stories.  Finally, we could not longer pretend to ignore the fact that every last one of them was gay.[1] Finally, we were forced to ask:  Why?  Why is this happening?  Are gay kids weaker, more fragile than the rest of us?  Can they not take a joke?  Why would so many of them choose to end their lives – as if there were an epidemic?  What could ever be so bad?  More to the point, whose fault is it?

We soon had our answer:  bullies. 

School bullies were to blame.  Bullies relentlessly harass and intimidate their piers who are—or are perceived to be—queer.  They have our kids’ blood on their hands. 

But where do these kids who bully learn to bully?  Who tells them it’s okay? Do we really believe ourselves when we say that they are the main problem? 

We know better.  We know that the way certain people misuse religion is the primary source of all the harm that is done to people simply because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.  (In fact, Bishop Gene Robinson says that people of faith are “95% the source of all the oppression we LGBT people have experienced in our lives.”)

So we're taking action.  

This week The New York Times reports that the American Family Association, an extremist religious group, is taking aim at a project called Mix It Up Day, where children are asked to sit with someone at lunch who they wouldn't normally sit with. [1] The American Family Association is calling the project “a nationwide push to promote the homosexual lifestyle in public schools” and – even worse – is telling parents to keep their children home from school on Mix It Up Day, October 30th.

Already 200 schools have canceled the event. We have to speak up.

Click here to add your name to our petition in support of Mix It Up Day – and if you are willing, please share your story of why you support anti-bullying.

We also know that bullying is a behavior, not an identity.  Kids can bully, but they are not, inherently, bullies.  When we come together in solidarity, when we voice our values of the inherent dignity of all people, we can curb bullying.

Today is Spirit Day, the annual day in October when millions of Americans wear purple to speak out against bullying and to show their support for LGBT youth. 

As people of faith and moral commitment, we wear purple because we know the harm that some of our brothers and sisters have done “in God’s name” to LGBT youth.  We wear purple in solidarity, in friendship, in moral commitment to take a stand against bullying no matter where we find it – so that all people can live free of fear, intimidation and shame for simply being who they were born to be.

Today, we’re all purple.

--

Jake Goodman is the Director of the Groundswell of Courage campaign for LGBT dignity. 

Twitter: @jakebgoodman




[1] As far as I know, no lesbian, bisexual or transgender youth killed themselves in September 2010.  Beyond this relatively narrow frame of time, of course, LBT kids took and continue to take their lives. The media just hasn’t reported on it as much.   




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