Today marks the beginning of Bullying Awareness Week throughout much of Canada. The Kids Help Phone website is currently highlighting bullying resources and information to help educate people on the topic of bullying.
You can also join Kids Help Phone for a live webinar on Facebook this Thursday at 4pm EST.
Wednesday, October 19th is Spirit Day, bringing awareness to the topic of bullying targeted towards LGBTQ youth.
According to GLAAD, “Spirit Day is a means of speaking out against LGBTQ bullying and standing with LGBTQ youth, who disproportionately face bullying and harassment because of their identities. Pledging to “go purple” on Spirit Day is a way for everyone — forward-thinking companies, global leaders, respected celebrities, neighbors, parents, classmates, and friends — to visibly show solidarity with LGBTQ youth and to take part in the largest, most visible anti-bullying campaign in the world.”
There are several ways you can participate in Spirit Day:
- Take the pledge to show you support LGBTQ youth and stand against bullying
- Learn facts about bullying by downloading GLAAD’s available resources kits designed for the public, students, and teachers
- Spread the word, especially on social media using #SpiritDay
- Go Purple, by wearing purple clothing or accessories, and also using social media profile photo frames promoting Spirit Day
- If you have the passion and means to do so, donate to GLAAD to take a stand against discrimination and prejudice.
The pledge, resource kits, shareable facts, social media supplies, and more are all available on GLAAD’s website.
Transgender Day of Remembrance is observed each year on November 20 in memoriam of lives lost to anti-transgender violence. A 2011 report by the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Projects shows anti-LGBT hate crime murders increased 11% from 2010. Of the victims murdered, 87% were people of color, and 40% were transgender women. Transgender people of color were also 28% more likely to experience physical violence compared to people who were not transgender people of color.
This terrible violence perpetrated against transgender people is all too common and also under-reported. Transgender issues are misunderstood by many, but visibility and education brings understanding. The Trans Student Educational Resources provided this great infographic that we thought we’d share.
Some other great resources for information on Transgender issues and Transgender Day of Remembrance can be found here, as well:
International Transgender Day of Remembrance
Human Rights Campaign blog
Human Rights Campaign’s Transgender Visibility Guide
Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLSEN)
National LGBTQ Task Force Blog
GLAAD’s Transgender Media and Education Program which includes Transgender 101
Artist Gilbert Baker created the rainbow flag as the symbol of LGBT pride because it embodied diversity and hope. Each color represents something different. Red for Life, Orange for Healing, Yellow for Sunlight, Green for Nature, Blue for Art, and Purple for the Human Spirit. The flag sometimes also includes Pink which symbolizes sexuality, and Indigo for Harmony.
Spirit Day, presented by GLAAD, encourages everyone to wear purple to embody that spirit and to show support and solidarity with LGBT youth. Millions of people, schools, organizations, universities, and corporations participate.
GLAAD offers up a lot of ways to get involved and show your support. You can simply wear purple or choose to change your profile picture on Facebook or Twitter to have a purple overlay using a tool they have available. You can also install an app on your smartphone or tablet that provides anti-bullying resources and calls to action.
The show of solidarity is important, but a big part of Spirit Day is also about educating others on the impact of LGBT bullying. For that, they have resource kits available.
We hope you’ll consider taking part in Spirit Day and show LGBT youth everywhere that it’s okay to be who they are, and that they have lots of support.
We at iCarol are excited to welcome STOMP Out Bullying™ to the iCarol family, just in time for National Bullying Prevention Month in October.
STOMP Out Bullying™ is a leading national anti-bullying and cyberbullying organization for kids and teens in the United States.
STOMP Out Bullying™ began in 2005 to address the issue of bullying and cyberbullying. They focus on reducing and preventing bullying and cyberbullying and other forms of digital abuse, and educating against racism, hate, and homophobia. Through a number of programs and initiatives, STOMP Out Bullying™ teaches effective solutions on how to respond to bullying. They also provide help for those in need and at risk of suicide.
Bullying should not be considered a “rite of passage” or a normal and acceptable part of childhood. According to STOMP Out Bullying™, kids who are bullied are more likely to experience depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues. Bullying can cause school absence and decreased academic participation – including dropping out of school entirely.
Bullies themselves are at risk, too. According to STOMP Out Bullying™, bullies are more likely to abuse alcohol or drugs when they become adolescents or adults. They are at increased risk of being involved in criminal activity, and are more likely to be abusive to their spouse/partner or children as adults.
On the first Monday of October each year we celebrate Blue Shirt Day® World Day of Bullying Prevention to show solidarity and make that the day that bullying prevention is heard around the world to bring awareness to the issue of bullying. By creating a “sea of blue” in our schools, businesses, and out in the community, we’ll see just how many people wish to stand up against bullying of all kinds. On October 6th you can wear any blue shirt, or you can purchase one. Remember, “If we all stand up as one, no one stands alone.”
STOMP Out Bullying Blue Shirt Day® World Day of Bullying Prevention 2014 PSA from STOMP Out Bullying on Vimeo.
June is Pride Month, and we at iCarol are proud to join the celebration. Many of the helplines using iCarol software serve the LGBT community and we admire and support the work they are doing.
Recently I watched the HBO original film “The Normal Heart.” The film was adapted from a play of the same name that was written by activist and playwright Larry Kramer. The play, and film, chronicle the emergence of AIDS and creation of the Gay Men’s Health Crisis in New York City in the early 1980’s, founded by Kramer and others. In the somewhat autobiographical play, Ned Weeks (a character based on Larry Kramer), is a passionate but abrasive advocate for increased attention and funding for research towards a new and unnamed illness which we now all know would be the AIDS epidemic.
In the film the illness is rapidly spreading among the gay community and Weeks is losing one friend after another to the mysterious disease. And while people are getting sick all around him, all suffering from similar symptoms and always ending with the same tragic outcome, no one seems to care. The necessary research isn’t receiving sufficient funding, politicians turn a blind eye, and some hospital staff even refuse to go in the rooms of those with the disease. In one particularly heartbreaking scene, a young man dies and a funeral home refuses to handle his body, instead putting him in a trash bag and making the young man’s mother and partner pay them to handle his remains in such a dehumanizing way.
In another scene, founding members of the Gay Men’s Health Crisis are organizing their office space when a young woman comes in, grief stricken by the recent loss of her friend. The character of Tommy Boatwright, (played wonderfully by Jim Parsons who steals the show in many scenes) comforts her. She says she wants to do something to help and he responds, “We need a hotline director.” The character of Tommy is based on the real-life person Rodger McFarlane, who first answered that hotline in his apartment and took 100 calls the first night it was open.
In the next scenes you see this small group fielding phone calls from people asking about the unnamed disease, its symptoms, the rumors surrounding its cause, and a number of other questions that the group admittedly had few answers to at the time. Their goal was to provide people with a place they could call to receive what little facts they had about the illness and also to receive access to social workers, legal help, health care, and more.
I thought to myself about how much things have changed in the over 30 years since this group first organized. HIV/AIDS is still a very real and dangerous illness, but thanks to the work of GMHC and others, it eventually stopped being ignored by decision makers and got the funding for research that it deserved. Research led to knowledge, and over time people were educated about how it spread and how to prevent it, and there have been incredible strides in the medicine and other treatments that greatly improve one’s ability to live with the disease. There’s no doubt that we still need activism and awareness and prevention and dollars for research, but things are much better than they were 30 years ago.
And look at how much has changed for LGBT helplines. When I saw the team of people in the movie answering phones and doing the best they could to help provide information and empathy, I smiled to myself and thought, “I wonder if any of them had any idea how much things would change for the LGBT community in the following decades.” LGBT helplines started with the purpose of helping people survive this illness which no one knew anything about. The LGBT helpline has evolved so much over the years. We still have many wonderful helplines doing work on HIV/AIDS education and prevention. But helplines now also focus on bullying, discrimination, suicide prevention, and legal rights, including the right to be married. Did any of the founding fathers of the GMHC ever imagine there would be a day where so many countries would recognize same-sex marriage, including many states in the US? Where gay characters, gay couples and their children, feature prominently on TV shows and movies and we no longer even take note of this, because these lives, as they should be, are no longer seen by most as abnormal or “other”? Did they even dare dream of such things at a time when most struggled to come out, and many were dying and no one even seemed to care?
We appreciate the great work of so many LGBT helplines who serve to help people who are struggling and feeling alone, offering hope to youth who are bullied for their sexual orientation or gender identity, helping them find reasons for living when times are so hard that they feel they can’t go on. All the problems are not solved and our society still has a way to go before full equality is realized. But “The Normal Heart” serves as a reminder that times were once so dark and so scary, while now they are filled with the promise of hope and love and acceptance.