Spirit Day: Go purple to take a stand against bullying

Today is Oct. 16. It’s also Spirit Day, when people everywhere are encouraged to “go purple” to take a stand against bullying. There’s even anspirit day selfie app for that: The Spirit Day App, powered by Toyota Financial Services, which provides anti-bullying resources, calls to action and lets you take a “selfie” then turn it purple and add an anti-bullying slogan. That’s my purple selfie right here in this post. I am also using it today as my profile pic on Facebook. I even remembered to wear my purple shirt today.

But see, here’s the day. It takes more that a purple shirt or a purple “selfie” to stop bullying. It takes more than paying attention just one day out of the year.

According to a study published in 2012 by the Centers for Disease Control, 1 in 6 high school students have seriously considered suicide, and 1 in 12 have actually attempted suicide. Overall, the suicide rate among teens climbed from 6.3 percent in 2009 to 7.8 percent in 2011, reflecting the trend gaining national attention as more teen suicides are reported as a result of bullying.

I have two sons, both relatively well-adjusted, considering that they are teenage boys. But both of them have had to deal with some sort of bullying during their lives. The older one, — now almost 18 — got bullied in junior high because he was a “smart kid,” a “nerd” who wore glasses. The younger one, now 15, was the target of a whole gang of bullies throughout his fourth-grade school year because we bought a house in a new neighborhood and he had to go to a new elementary school. “New kids” often get bullied.

We were lucky. Our kids made it through and are OK. A lot of kids aren’t so lucky.

And we have to remember that in a time when social media infiltrates so much of our lives, bullying isn’t limited to the classroom or the playground. It can follow our kids home, into our own living rooms, into their own bedrooms. We have to find whole new ways to protect our children. And that takes more than wearing purple one day a year.

Don’t get me wrong: I am all for Spirit Day, for purple selfies and purples clothes. Things like that raise awareness, and change doesn’t happen without awareness. I am just asking that we all remember not to let it stop there.

If you have children, talk to them about bullying. Make sure they know they can come to you for help if someone is bullying them. And make sure they are not bullying anyone else. If you are a young person yourself and you are being bullied, don’t suffer in silence. Find someone who can help. If you can’t find someone, contact us here at Dallas Voice; we can connect you with the help you need.

And remember that bullying isn’t limited to children. Adults are bullied too: by coworkers, spouses, by someone at the gym or on the street.

When you see someone being bullied, step in. Do something to stop the abuse. Don’t turn away. You could be the one who makes the difference, who saves someone’s life.

 

—  Tammye Nash

Spirit Day remembers LGBT victims of bullying

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Cathedral of Hope Spirit Day participants

Today is Spirit Day when people wear purple to show support for young LGBT victims of bullying.

“So … purple is an awesome color, but it carries added significance on Thursday because it’s the annual Spirit Day,” Cathedral of Hope’s Chris Kelley said. “A high school student started Spirit Day in 2010 as a way to show support for LGBT youth and as a way to prevent bullying.”

Despite anti-bullying laws passed by states and policies passed by school districts, the stats are as bad as ever. About eight out of every 10 LGBT students experience bullying in school. As many as 63 percent feel unsafe, according to GLAAD.

“At Cathedral of Hope many of our Youth Leaders and staff members have been sporting purple all week,” Kelley said. “Our students are active in their schools to get the word out that bullying and hatred are NOT okay.”

A case of bullying in Florida that resulted in suicide has been in the news this week. Although not an LGBT student, the victim experienced much of what LGBT students go through.

Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd is taking this case more seriously than most have in the past. He understands bullying begins at home.

The sheriff is considering filing charges against the older of the bullies as an adult because she’s showing no remorse over the death. He’s investigating ways to arrest the parents who have gone beyond defending their daughter by denying the bullying ever happened. He’s also investigating school officials for not taking the threats seriously and doing something to stop the harassment at school.

—  David Taffet

Wear purple Thursday and have a grape day

purple-shirtDallas has its Purple Foundation, which probably wasn’t so named as a reminder of anti-bullying, but which works for us. Anything to serve as a reminder that tomorrow, Oct. 17, is the fourth annual Spirit Day. The nationwide event is about raising awareness of bullying. And how do you do that? Well, you don’t need a ribbon or a wristband — you just need to get yourself to the far end of the rainbow.

Wearing purple on Thursday is a symbol of support for those who are bullied, who are often members of the LGBT community. Make it a shirt or some snazzy trousers or a thong if you’re an exotic dancer or a monster costume if you’re a Furry or play Barney or Tinky-Winky on TV. Anything that shows your support will be welcome.

Even businesses are getting into the act: Johnson & Johnson will be “going purple” by changing the colors on all its logos temporarily, from Motrin to Rogaine to Listerine. Corporate citizenship like that puts us in the pink … or at least, the mauve.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

This week’s takeaways: Life+Style

First off, if you’re not already wearing purple today, go back home and put some on. Oct. 19 is Spirit Day, sponsored by GLAAD to draw awareness to bullying. (You can even turn your Facebook pic purple.)

Next, if you don’t already have tickets to see Madonna this weekend, good luck finding them …. though if you are going, we have a little primer for you about what to expect.

And for those who don’t have ‘em and can’t afford the scalper prices anyway, this is the final weekend to see Hello Again at Uptown Players (pictured) and also Freud’s Last Session at Theatre 3.  Or you can just see a movie — and Keep the Lights On is definitely worth seeing.

For a little more interactive experience, the IGRA’s Gay Rodeo World Finals are in Fort Worth this weekend, with plenty of events and parties. While you’re in Cowtown, swing over to Bass Hall to catch Ben Stevenson’s staging of the ballet Peer Gynt. Or you come back to Dallas and  gorge yourself on Burgers & Burgundy, a fundraiser for DIFFA, on Friday night.

You can gorge yourself also on Sunday by coming to the Texas State Veggie Fair, held this year at Reverchon Park. In addition to the fried (vegan) food competition, there will be vegan food sellers and all sorts of vendors promoting a vegan lifestyle.

And the final thing to set aside time for this weekend: The Turtle Creek Chorale has its fall “Partners in Harmony” concert on Sunday at the Meyerson.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones