Today members and friends of Q Soc Trinity’s LGBTQIA+ society gathered in Front Square to take a stand against homophobic bullying for Spirit Day.
Spirit Day is held on the third Thursday of October every year as part of National Bullying Prevention Month. The event aims to fight against the bullying of the LGBTQIA+ community. Spirit Day was founded in 2010 following a number of high profile cases of LGBTQIA+ teenagers taking their own lives. The event was set up by high school student Brittany McMillan, who wanted to make a change in response to the homophobic bullying she witnessed as well as the deaths of teens she witnessed as a result of homophobic bullying.
She encouraged those around her to wear purple on a day in October. Since 2010 the event has gained traction, with many celebrating it around the world including use of the hashtag #SpiritDay.
Today the event is run by the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), an LGBTQ+ media advocacy organisation. The GLAAD website for Spirit Day includes resources and toolkits for students, teachers and workplaces on how to prevent bullying and how to celebrate or raise money for Spirit Day.
The auditor of Q Soc, Oliver Riordan, and the Students’ Union LGBTQIA+ Rights Officer, Sean O’Carroll, spoke to Trinity News about the importance of the day. Oliver highlighted the particular significance of this day in light of the level of violence against the LGBTQIA+ community in 2016.
Both expressed that they wanted the event to be a visual show of solidarity with the community. Members and friends wore purple. The purple on the rainbow flag for the LGBTQIA+ community represents the spirit of the community.
The mass shooting in Orlando and other incidents of homophobic hate crimes as of recent highlight the need to keep working towards a greater understanding and tolerance of LGBTQIA+ issues. The reality that many members of the community still face discrimination towards, intolerance and misunderstanding of their identities is a pressing concern and efforts like Spirit Day help to raise awareness of these challenges.