Metro Weekly

UN Free and Equal campaign partners with GLAAD for Spirit Day

Video and web page for "Spirit Day" call for an end to bullying and greater acceptance of LGBTQI youth

UN Free & Equal’s “Purple the World” video – Photo: UN Free & Equal.

The United Nations has partnered with GLAAD to call for more action against anti-LGBTQ bullying.

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and the UN Free & Equal campaign have partnered with the LGBTQ media advocacy organization as part of Spirit Day.

As part of the partnership, UN Free & Equal — a global public information campaign aimed at promoting equal rights and fair treatment of LGBTQI people internationally — has created an video, “Purple the World,” advocating the end of bullying against, and promoting acceptance of, LGBTQI youth.

To commemorate Spirit Day, UN Free & Equal has also created a landing page where visitors can educate themselves about human rights concerns facing LGBTQI youth.

Users can also learn how allies, teachers, and governments can support those children, including: intervening when bullying occurs; creating support groups; teaching about the contributions of LGBTQI individuals; and repealing any laws that criminalize LGBTQI individuals or leave them exposed to potential discrimination.

“The UN Human Rights office is proud to stand up for the human rights of young LBGTI people on Spirit Day — and every day,” Veronica Birga, chief of OHCHR’s Women’s Human Rights and Gender Section and the head of UN Free & Equal, said in a statement.

“No child should be bullied for who they are or whom they love,” Birga said. “We all have more power than we think to stop bullying and to build societies where all young people, in all their diversity, can grow and thrive. Together we can stop hatefulness and embrace freedom, dignity and equality.”

Coinciding with National Bullying Prevention Month, Spirit Day began in 2010 after then-high school student Brittany McMillan created a Tumblr post asking students to wear purple — the color representing “spirit” in the LGBTQ Pride flag — to call attention to the suicides of several youth who were either LGBTQI or perceived as belonging to the LGBTQI community.

The event has since grown in scope, with major companies, workplaces, and individuals donning purple clothing, changing their corporate logos to purple, or taking other actions to express support LGBTQI youth and demonstrate their opposition to bullying and discrimination.

GLAAD, the LGBTQ media advocacy organization, has been one of the biggest promoters of Spirit Day.

Related: Spirit Day: 2020 Democrats tell LGBTQ youth “it does get better” and they’re “not alone”

“We are so honored to be partnering with UN Free & Equal this year to take the fight against anti-LGBTI bullying to a global level,” Sarah Kate Ellis, the president and CEO of GLAAD, said in a statement. “By using its platform to call on leaders and governments to address the issue of bullying on Spirit Day, UN Free & Equal plays a crucial role in amplifying the message that we will continue to fight for a world where LGBTI youth are fully safe and accepted.”

According to GLSEN’s most recent National School Climate Survey, 70% of LGBTQI students in the United States report that they’ve been verbally harassed because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Nearly 3 in 5 LGBTQI students say they feel unsafe at school because of their sexual orientation, and more than 2 in 5 say they feel unsafe or targeted because of their gender identity.

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