According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, a bully may be defined as someone who is ‘habitually cruel to others who are weaker’.
Most of us have already been bullied at some point in our lives; maybe we were the nerd at school, or the one who failed everything. Maybe we were overweight. Maybe our hair was all over the place. Or maybe just maybe we may have looked at the wrong person at the wrong time.
Many people would actually argue that bullying is just another aspect of school life, we get through it because there will always be bullies in this world so it is pointless crying about it. But many do end up crying, especially those who end up losing a loved one.
Every day we keep hearing about more and more teen suicides related to bullying. And that is why Spirit Day was conceived back in 2010 by Canadian teenager Brittany McMillan. Spirit Day is an annual event when people come together in support of the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transsexual (LGBT) people who are being bullied due to their sexual orientation or gender identity, and also to commemorate those who felt that what they were going through, the constant pain and humiliation, the feeling of being alone in this enormous world, would never stop.
The observance of Spirit Day began due to the large amounts of bullying related suicides of LGBT people in 2010. Especially the suicide of Tyler Clementi who was filmed secretly using a webcam by his own roommates as he kissed another man, which was immediately transmitted on the web. It was due to this highly publicized suicide that McMillan decided it was high time something was done. And ever since then, Spirit Day has been observed annually on every third Thursday of October.
Purple is the symbol of spirit and hope on the rainbow flag created by Gilbert Baker and so it became apt to use for an event which attempts to instill hope in the people suffering from bullying. And that is what Spirit Day is all about. According to the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suicide is the third leading cause of death in teens, with about 4,400 suicides per year.
Despite these macabre statistics, education goes a long way. It is very important to educate from a young age that just because we are all different, it does not mean we are not all the same. There is never a good reason to treat someone differently, to be cruel. So while wearing a purple shirt may mean nothing to you, it may mean something to someone being bullied, to know that they have an ally in you. There is strength in numbers, so how about for one day, the third Thursday of October, we all wear purple to support our allies and friends who are going through a hard time.
As a side note I’d like to say that even though initially spirit day started out as a way to speak against bullying happening to LGBT people, I’d like to stress that bullying against anyone is wrong, but especially towards people just because they are being their true selves. We are all unique in our own ways, and it’s what makes us beautiful.