Go Purple Against Bullying
On Spirit Day, which occurs on October 19, millions of Americans will wear purple to increase awareness against bullying in schools and as a sign of support for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) youth who are at a higher risk of being bullied. According to the 2011 National School Climate Survey report by the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN):
- 81.9% experienced harassment at school because of their sexual orientation,
- 63.5% felt unsafe at school because of their sexual orientation,
- 80% of transgender students felt unsafe at school because of their gender expression, and
- 29.8% skipped a day of school in the past month because of safety concerns.
Many of us may relate to being bullied in school because of perceived or actual differences from peers. Bullying or being bullied is not a rite of passage to adulthood. The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services provides a list of some signs of a bullying problem for any child:
- Unexplainable injuries,
- Lost or destroyed property,
- Frequent illness,
- Changes in eating habits,
- Difficulty sleeping,
- Declining grades, loss of interest in schoolwork, or absenteeism,
- Avoiding social situations,
- Feelings of helplessness or decreased self-esteem, and
- Self-destructive behaviors or talking about suicide.
When these signs occur to your child or a fellow classmate, it is important not to ignore them and to talk to a trusted adult, teacher, school counselor, principal, or superintendent.
I was encouraged to learn from a Memphis City Schools (MCS) workshop, “Understanding Bullying, and Cyber Bullying,” that their student code of conduct policy prohibits bullying based on race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, disability, socioeconomic or familial status. Many schools across the United States are taking similar policy steps and continuing their work in creating a culture of safe and affirming learning environments. These efforts have had a positive effect on the students’ class attendance; academic achievement; spirit of belonging; general well-being; and preparation for diverse workplaces.
The simple act of wearing purple on Spirit Day is a powerful way to increase awareness that no child should be bullied and it is acceptable to be oneself. I hope you support this movement.
To learn more information, visit:
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK(8255) www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org
U.S. Department of Health & Human Services www.stopbullying.gov