October 20th is #SpiritDay
In the fall of 2010, the LGBT community lost a number of young people to suicide. Many of these youth were the victims of harassment and violence, and in response to these tragedies, GLAAD and other organizations created Spirit Day.
Spirit Day is held every third Thursday of October, during National Bullying Prevention Month, and many people wear purple to show their support for LGBTQ youth and to those who are being bullied.
At GSAFE, we believe that events like Spirit Day can be a great way to create more awareness around an issue, but that more work must be done to effectively address bullying and anti-LGBTQ violence in our schools and communities.
You can visit the Spirit Day website to download lots of great resources and find ideas on how to commemorate this day in your schools, and read below for more resource and information on other ways to combat bullying.
Resources for Students
GSAs and student activists have been at the forefront of making our schools safer for LGBTQ youth for more than twenty years. Young people have a lot of power to make change, and there are lots of great resources to be found online that help equip students with the tools they need to do so:
- GSA Network has an online platform created for students who want to run campaigns in their schools. Their website has tools on how to identify your goals, rally your supporters, create online petitions, and amplify your campaign on social media. Check it out here.
- The GLSEN Jump Start program is a series of downloadable workshops that students can use with their GSAs and other groups to make change in their schools. Workshop topics include “Strategies for Training Teachers,” “Making Your Student Club Trans-Inclusive,” and more. Download them here.
- GLAAD has created Spirit Day resources specifically for students. To download their resource kit, visit their website here.
Resources for Educators
Educators can also play a pivotal role in addressing bullying in their schools. In 2012, GSAFE had Dr. Dorothy Espelage as the keynote speaker at our Safe Schools, Safe Communities conference in Milwaukee. Dr. Espelage is one of the leading researchers in the country on bullying, and in her keynote she talked about why so many of the anti-bullying programs that are out there simply don’t work. You can watch her keynote address on our YouTube channel here.
- Speaking of research, GLSEN just released a study called “From Teasing to Torment: School Climate Revisited, A Survey of U.S. Secondary Students and Teachers.” They released a similar study ten years ago that looked at the victimization and bias faced by middle school and high school students. Included in the report are recommendations on how to more effectively address bullying in our schools. Read it here.
- Teaching Tolerance magazine has some wonderful classroom activities and lesson plans that can be used to address bullying and create a more welcoming climate. You can search by topic and by grade level to tailor it to your classroom. Look around their website here.
- Welcoming Schools is a program designed for elementary-aged students and looks at family diversity, gender stereotypes, and bias-based bullying. On their website, you can download a welcoming schools starter kit if you share your contact information with them. GSAFE’s Senior Director of Education and Policy, Brian Juchems, is a Welcoming Schools Certified Facilitator. Send him an email or give him a call if you’d like to learn more about bringing Welcoming Schools to your school.
Resources for Parents
As a parent, it can be a scary thing to learn that your child is being bullied. Many students will hide the fact that they are being bullied from their families. We encourage parents and guardians to talk to their children about bullying, which includes what to do if they are getting bullied, if they see bullying, or perhaps if they are engaging in bullying behaviors themselves.
- Wisconsin’s Department of Public Instruction has some good resources on their website for parents who are concerned about bullying. You can check those out here.
- StopBullying.gov is another good website, which includes warning signs that your child is being bullied, information in cyberbullying, and legal support. You can view their website here.
- PFLAG has been providing support to parents of LGBTQ youth for many years. If your child is being bullied because they are LGBTQ (or are perceived to be LGBTQ), PFLAG is a great place to connect with other parents who may be going through the same thing. Find a chapter here.
- Similarly, COLAGE is an organization that provides support to families with LGBTQ parents. They have great resources on their website here.