Today is Spirit Day when people across the country wear purple as a sign of support for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) youth and to speak out against bullying.
Going purple is one way to stand up and bring attention to the issue of harassment and bullying of LGBT youth, and to let them know they aren’t alone. For the ACLU, it’s also a chance to remind these students that THE LAW IS ON THEIR SIDE.
Bullying and harassment is a serious issue for everyone – nearly a third of all students report having experienced harassment or bullying at school.
The problem is even worse for LGBT students.
- 9 out of 10 LGBT students report being harassed at school.
- More than 3 out of 4 students hear derogatory remarks such as “faggot” or dyke” frequently or often at school.
- Nearly two-thirds say they feel unsafe because of their sexual orientation.
- Nearly 1 in 5 students has been physically assaulted because of their sexual orientation, and more than 1 in 10 because of their gender expression.
- LGBT students are five times more likely to report having skipped school because of safety concerns. This directly impacts their ability to succeed academically.
- Suicide attempts by LGBT youth and questioning youth are four times more likely than their straight peers to attempt suicide.
- Nearly half of young transgender people have seriously thought about taking their lives, and one quarter report having made a suicide attempt.
We can all help stand up for these youth.
Not just by Going Purple, but by being an ally every day. Here are some things you can do.
- Knowledge is power. Federal and state law protect LGBT Youth from harassment and make it illegal for schools to fail to protect these students from any kind of hostile school climate or behavior. Make sure the youth in your life know their legal rights.
- Make sure your school is following the law. All schools must have clear published Anti-Harassment and Bullying Policies and Procedures. They also must have someone in each building clearly identified as a Title IX Officer whose job is to receive and respond to complaints.
- Ask your school to take proactive steps to create a climate where LGBT Youth feel welcome and supported. For more information on steps schools can take, visit the ACLU Web Page for Schools on how to prevent Bullying and Harassment.
And Don’t Forget to Go Purple!!