Wondering why MLP has a purple hue? Today is Spirit Day and you can go purple with us too! We invite you to go purple with us in a stand against bullying and to show support for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) youth. Wearing purple or going purple online is a simple way to show LGBTQ youth that they are celebrated and accepted for who they are. GLAAD has provided a simple app to help you turn your Facebook and Twitter profiles purple (click the go purple button).
On Spirit Day, MLP joins our voices and hearts with other faith partners to say to LGBTQ youth: “You’re made in God’s image. We need you to bring the totality of your being—including and maybe especially your sexual and gender identity—to the table.” We stand with you against any violence that attempts to silence who you are.
Unfortunately LGBTQ youth are harassed and bullied both in their schools and communities, as well as online via facebook, email, or text message. GLSEN conducted a survey in June among 5,680 LGBTQ youth about their experiences online. The survey found that LGBTQ youth experience nearly three times as much bullying and harassment online as non-LGBTQ youth.
In other key findings:
- LGBTQ youth were nearly three times as likely as non-LGBTQ youth to say they had been bullied or harassed online (42% vs. 15%) and twice as likely to say they had been bullied via text message (27% vs 13%).
- 1 in 4 LGBTQ youth (26%) said they had been bullied online specifically because of their sexual orientation or gender expression in the past year, and 1 in 5 (18%) said they had experienced bullying and harassment for these reasons via text message.
- 1 in 3 (32%) LGBTQ respondents said they had been sexually harassed online in the past year. 1 in 4 LGBTQ youth (25%) said they had been sexually harassed via text message.
- LGBTQ youth were four times as likely as non-LGBTQ youth to say they had been sexually harassed online (32% vs. 8%) and three times as likely to say they had been sexually harassed via text message (25% vs. 8%).
A Human Rights Campaign youth survey showed similar results. LGBTQ youth are twice as likely to report being harassed, assaulted, kicked or shoved at school. Ninety-two percent say they hear negative messages about being LGBTQ at school, on the Internet and from peers.
More Light Presbyterians works for a world in which all youth are safe and celebrated, particularly in their places of worship. On Spirit Day, we also want to recognize the ministry of those in the Presbyterian Church (USA) who model what it means to provide a safe space for LGBTQ youth. MLP recently interviewed Rev. Alex Wirth at Lake View Presbyterian Church (Cafe Pride) and Rev. Meredith White at the Phoenix Project (Freak Flag) about their outreach to LGBTQ youth. May their work continue to inspire us to find ways to make a difference for LGBTQ youth in our local schools, churches and communities. Here are two thoughts for Spirit Day from those interviews:
“As Christians we need to be on the cutting edge of loving people traditionally not loved by the church. We do everything we can to show these youth hospitality, love and compassion. We show them that they are loved, not in words only, but let our actions speak for our compassion. If the church is not completely inclusive of LGBTQ youth, homeless and housed, we’re fooling ourselves as a church.” ~Rev. Alex Wirth
“In past year-and-half, I’ve seen the love and welcome we offer make a big difference in their lives. A lot of them did not have a place to go and did not feel like things were going to be OK. They just need a safe place to be, not at school, home, or the church. Institution after institution has failed them and we are honored to have a chance to be different. We’re able to model the love of Jesus and counter the notion that the church is mostly about bigotry and hypocrisy.” ~Rev. Meredith White