Friday, October 19, 2012

What color T-shirt are you wearing tomorrow?

By Laura Kiritsy and Ben Klein
Today, folks across the country are wearing purple clothing and tinting their social media profile pictures with similar hues to mark Spirit Day, a day for people to stand up against bullying and to show their support for LGBTQ youth. Spirit Day is a great way to raise awareness of the scourge of bullying and the way in which it disproportionately affects queer youth.  But we have been asking ourselves this week, “What more should we be doing for LGBTQ youth?” and “What more can we ask our allies to do?” Let’s not shy away from taking advantage of these awareness days to demand support for tangible changes that will really make the world a safer, more affirming place for LGBTQ youth.

That’s not to say that we don’t have the Spirit Day spirit. Here at GLAD, a group of purple-clad colleagues gathered for the picture that now graces ourFacebook profile page. Our FB and Twitter icons are purple. And we’re proud to say that we put our spirit into action every day in an effort to make the world a safer, more affirming place for LGBTQ youth, whether it be
litigating on behalf of a transgender girl who was discriminated against at her school or educating students about their legal rights as LGBTQ people, to cite just a couple of recent examples.

Bullying is a widespread problem with tragic consequences, as we have seen with the painful suicides of too many young people like Carl Walker-Hoover (who lived in Massachusetts), Asher Brown and Tyler Clementi. And at this point, it’s safe to say that support for curbing school bullying is a mainstream position. All of the major sports leagues –including NASCAR -- have “gone purple” today. The
iconic “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas Sign” has been turned purple along with the Duke Energy Tower in Charlotte, North Carolina, the New York Stock Exchange, Thomson Reuters’ Times Square screen, the LAX Pylon Lights and JFK Airport traffic tower. The list of celebrity purple people is endless. (Yes, we’re well aware of the right-wing cranks that see anti-bullying efforts as veiled attempts to promote the dreaded “homosexual agenda,” but they’re being pushed to the fringe, as CNN anchor Christine Costello’s recent interview with the American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer clearly demonstrates.)

If we’re really intent on creating a better world for LGBTQ youth we should be raising awareness of a whole spectrum of issues that affect them.  Here are some issues that we think are just as important:

What are your ideas for raising the bar on supporting our young people?

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