Brittany McMillan was just a young Canadian high school student when she founded Spirit Day back in 2010.
The beginnings of Spirit Day were humble, consisting initially of a Tumblr post by Brittany asking fellow students to wear purple in response to the recent bullying-related suicides of several young GSRD individuals. Her post quickly picked up traction, though, and captured the attention of the non-profit GSRD advocacy group, GLAAD.
Together Brittany and GLAAD hosted the first Spirit Day on October 20th, 2010. Since then, Spirit Day has been officially recognised as a GSRD holiday, and is celebrated on the third Thursday of October every year. Participants wear the colour purple – one of the colours of the Pride flag – to signify their stance against bullying and their support of GSRD youth.
Spirit Day reflects McMillan’s initial hope for GSRD youth to “find the spirit” to persevere through tough times. This year’s Spirit Day on October 19th, millions of people across the globe will echo that hope by “going purple.”
How You Can “Go Purple”
The easiest way to celebrate Spirit Day is to wear something purple. Whether at work, at school, or at home, get your purple on and showcase your support for GSRD youth by wearing a purple item – or even an entire purple outfit!
Going one step above this, you can Go Purple by using the power of social media. The advancement of technology has allowed bullying to take on new forms, including through the internet. According to a 2019 study by Statistics Canada, 25% of youth had reported being cyberbullied the previous year. Crucially, the rate of cyberbullying victimisation was found to be increased among GSRD youths, with 52% of non-binary youths, and 33% of same-gender attracted youths, experiencing cyberbullying. This Spirit Day, you can help flip cyberbullying on its head by flooding social media with pictures of you in a snazzy purple number. Just check out how much fun “Mean Girls” star and gay icon Daniel Franzese had with it!
If you don’t own anything purple, fret not. GLAAD has an app that allows you to turn your Facebook or Twitter profile picture purple instead. And if you want to do even more, go over to GLAAD’s website and Take the Pledge against bullying by adding your signature to their pledge list.
Whatever you end up doing this Spirit Day, we hope you find the spirit to persevere today and every day after it.