There are some things you never, ever, forget.
No matter who you are or where you grew up, you can probably think back to a moment in time that someone said something that made you feel…less. Might have been a sibling. That’s a cruel, but understandable part of growing up. Could have been a parent or a teacher: far more debilitating.
For the vast majority of kids who were questioning their sexuality or gender, or knew quite well that they identified somewhere on the LGBTQ spectrum, it was other kids.
Yesterday, Oct. 20, was Spirit Day. What’s Spirit Day, you wonder? It’s not some new Hallmark Holiday created to push pricey musical greeting cards. Spirit Day is the celebration of coming together as one community, one voice, against bullying. It began in 2010 after a string of LGBTQ-youth took their lives after being horrendously bullied. Of course, the action received a lot of media/public attention.
On Spirit Day, people are encouraged to speak out against bullying and to wear purple to show their support for LGBTQ youth. One day, however, while energizing and enlightening, is not enough.
The bullying of LGBTQ youth is a daily, hourly, minute-by-minute epidemic. Taking a stand against bullying must be fought constantly and consistently. Hard.
When it comes to bullying, many are apt to say “sticks and stones will break your bones” as an excuse or a cajoling message to get tough. Unfortunately, the far more insidious, and horribly erroneous, message comes next. The fact is: words do harm. A lot. Bruises and bones heal. Broken hearts and spirits never quite fully mend.
For this reason, no matter who you are, having a healthy contempt for bullying is a critically vital part of living compassionately. Standing up, and beside, those who are currently and needlessly hurt on the daily by bullying is important work.
Individually, standing up to bullying and speaking out against it, helps. However, as a community, it sends a powerful message to anyone who is more part of the problem than they are part of the solution. This is the real message behind Spirit Day.
It’s important for adults, who somehow come to embrace the beauty and vibrancy of being unique, to become a part of the anti-bullying mission. For many, the understanding and self-acceptance that being different is actually wonderful comes after the damage is done. However, strong LGBTQ voices can make a difference. Today. Right now.
Our young people need compassion. In fact, this entire world really needs a huge dose of compassion. Compassion is needed for victims of bullying as well as for those who feel they have no other choice, or voice, than to bully.
Bullying is now a growing epidemic that is claiming more and more of our LGBTQ youth everyday. It’s robbing them of their spirit and their will to live. In the wake of Spirit Day, I implore you to speak to your children, your family, your friends and anyone else who will listen to your message. Speak to those who need to hear it and speak to those who don’t want to listen.
Speak clearly. Be louder than the bullies. If ever one voice could make a difference, this is that war. Make sure you are heard. The impact you may have on another may never truly be understood, but you will surely be one step closer to healing your own wrinkled heart.