Today is Spirit Day, an annual day in October when millions of Americans wear purple to speak out against bullying and to show their support for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) youth. Transgender and gender non-conforming people are one of the most vulnerable communities to bullying, not only in school systems that promise to shelter and educate, but throughout our society.
Last year the National Center for Transgender Equality and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force completed a study with 6,450 transgender and gender non-conforming people about the depth and breadth of injustice in their lives. As the Church, we need to confront the appalling realities documented in this study and open our hearts and lives to the full glory of God’s diverse creation.
In the education portion of the study, the following harassment and discrimination statistics were presented about transgender and gender non-conforming people:
- Those who expressed a transgender identity or gender non-conformity while in grades K-12 reported alarming rates of harassment (78%), physical assault (35%) and sexual violence (12%); harassment was so severe that it led almost one-sixth (15%) to leave a school in K-12 settings or in higher education.
- Respondents who have been harassed and abused by teachers in K-12 settings showed dramatically worse health and other outcomes than those who did not experience such abuse. Peer harassment and abuse also had highly damaging effects.
The executive summary and the full report is available at EndTransDiscrimination.org.
Take the Pledge
On this Spirit Day, MLP would like to ask you to take the pledge to end discrimination against transgender people.
I pledge to do my part to make my community safe and welcoming for transgender and gender non-conforming people. Whether at work or school, in my family, or among friends, I pledge to respect the identity of transgender people, knowing that they are being true to who they are, and I will let them know with both my words and my actions that I am supportive. I will speak up when I see others disrespecting anyone’s gender expression. I will do my part to support laws and policies that ensure that transgender and gender non-conforming people, of all races, ages and classes, are treated fairly. I will work for a world in which everyone is free to be who they are and can lead happy and fulfilling lives, without having to overcome discrimination.
You can sign the pledge at the bottom of the EndTransDiscrimination.org page.
Go Purple on Sunday, Think Long-Term
GLAAD’s Religion, Faith & Values program has provided a page full of ideas about how faith communities can raise awareness about bullying on Sunday. The suggestions include:
- Use the Spirit Day Bulletin Insert.
- Deck your worship space out in purple for the week
- Invite everyone to wear purple and snap a photo
- Encourage a message about anti-bullying
- Plan worship themed about anti-bullying
- Sing songs reflecting Spirit Day.
In the long-term, plan a Sunday School class using TransACTION as a resource. This resource, along with other resources about Gender Identity and Expression, is available for download in our resources area.
- Op-ed: The Bullying Crisis, The Advocate