The Best Spirit Day Tweets From Celebs, Politicians, And Sports Organizations Supporting LGBTQ Youth
Thursday, October 20 is a day of significance in the LGBTQ community. (Yes, it's the day The Rocky Horror Picture Show tribute starring Laverne Cox airs.) But also, it's #SpiritDay, a GLAAD-sponsored anti-bullying campaign for LGBTQ youth. The best #SpiritDay tweets this year came from celebrities, politicians, parents, allies, and queer folks themselves, all banding together to let queer youth know they're seen and loved, in spite of the significantly higher rates of bullying they face in comparison to straight and cisgender students.
In 2013, nearly 8000 LGBTQ students aged 13-21 were surveyed from all 50 states by the Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network (GLSEN). And the LGBTQ student bullying statistics were staggering. Nearly half of students surveyed report being cyberbullied. When it comes to verbal harassment, 74.1 percent report being bullied for their sexual identity, and 55.2 percent for their gender expression. Physical harassment was reported by 36.2 percent of students for their sexual identity and 22.7 percent for their gender expression. Physical assault was reported by 16.5 percent of students for their sexual identity and 11.4 for their gender expression.
Heartbreakingly, 56.7 percent of LGBTQ students didn't report their experiences of bullying because they didn't think any action would be taken. Unfortunately, they were statistically likely to be correct. Of LGBTQ students who did report their bullying to school staff, 61.6 percent said no action was taken.
While it's important to combat this pervasive bullying at the student level — especially considering the violence adult LGBTQ folks continue to face — one of the pitfalls of many mainstream LGBT campaigns is that they fail to recognize the actual safety needs and preferences of LGBTQ folks. This kind of "performative allyship" can be really invalidating. Initiatives like GLSEN's "Ally Week," for example, often focus on praising straight and cisgender allies for their "acceptance" of LGBTQ peers instead of on centering queer folks by deepening allies' understanding of queer identity, the specific issues facing LGBTQ people, and providing better resources for marginalized communities.
Basically, if we want to do useful work in helping marginalized folks, then a good place to start is by asking the least powerful members of those communities what they actually need, listening to what they have to say, and trying to implement the changes they're actually most invested in. And it's clear from the numbers that bullied LGBTQ students need all the support they can get.
To celebrate #SpiritDay, GLAAD offered a number of initiatives supporters could participate in. There's a Twitter hashflag, as well as profile photo filters, frames, and badges. They also published a Facebook album of anti-bullying messages stating "I'm _______ and against bullying" with various identity markers like sexual orientations, gender identities, family member associations, and religious affiliations folks could claim.
While plenty of people took to social media to tweet support, show off the purple they were sporting in solidarity, or share their own stories as bullied young queers, a few types of messages were especially heartwarming.
The Political Support
National Sports Associations
Your Favorite Queer-Friendly Celebs and TV Shows
Not to mention just about every nationally televised morning show gave a purple-clad Spirit Day shout out. But Twitter's LGBTQ division @TwitterOpen may have captured the groundswell of support best of all: