MIAMI (CBSMiami) – If you’re wondering why so many people are sporting their lavender hues today, it’s because it’s Spirit Day, the annual GLAAD event that encourages people to wear purple as against bullying and to show their support for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) youth.
Spirit Day was started in 2010 as a response to bullied young people who had taken their own lives. According to a 2011 survey by the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network, 63.5- percent of LGBT students said they felt unsafe at school because of their sexual orientation. Close to 82-percent reported being verbally harassed.
Spirit day is a nationwide event, and South Florida is slipping in to the trend with purple clothes or accessories.
Spirit Day is promoted each year by the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), which recruits hundreds of celebrities, entertainment organizations, brands, landmarks, sports leagues, faith groups, school districts, colleges and universities for the campaign.
“It’s a life or death situation, for LGBT youth specifically. It’s hard enough to be gay. It’s hard enough to be young, it’s hard enough to be a teen nowadays but the rate of suicide is so high among the LGBT youth, said Karen Brown, Director of the LGBT Visitors Center, adding, “being able to make it a public forum is the only way to prevent further bullying.”
Richard Murray with Prideline Youth Services sees the torment and bullying firsthand that some LGBT teens experience.
“We deal with bullying here in South Florida on a daily basis with these youth so it’s a show of solidarity and something that we deal with every day so I thought it was important to show the spirit,” said Murray.
“In middle school definitely it was hard for me,” said Vercosa who wore a purple tie for Spirit Day, “I just wanted to be myself and I couldn’t be, everyone made fun of me for being gay.”
Celebrities like Oprah Winfrey and Jesse Tyler Ferguson, in honor of Spirit Day, changed their profiles to the color purple, also trending is the hashtag, #spiritday on social media. Sports leagues, like the MLB, the NBA, the NHL went purple for Spirit Day as well.
For more information about Spirit Day or if you or someone you know is a victim of bullying, go to glaad.org/spiritday.
To reach the Switchboard of Miami’s GLBTQ Helpline and Suicide Awareness Program, contact 305-646-3600. For questions about your child, free and confidential, you can contact Monica Sanchez at 305-899-8087 or email at msanchez@GLBTQalliance.org or visit http://www.GLBTQalliance.org.