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Saint Mary’s supports LGBTQ youth with Spirit Day

| Thursday, October 15, 2015

Although Saint Mary’s colors are blue and white, students will don purple attire Thursday in support of Spirit Day, which raises awareness about bullied LGBTQ youth.

Senior Courtney Lamar, president of the Student Diversity Club, said the Saint Mary’s community hopes to demonstrate unity by wearing purple.

“We work to support all identities on campus,” Lamar said. “Spirit Day is particularly important because we want to uplift those who have been bullied and put down for being who they are.”

Senior Angela Bukur, Student Diversity Club vice president, said wearing purple requires little effort but sends a powerful message.

“This will help to show support and spread awareness on campus,” she said. “Since this issue isn’t talked about often, this is a start towards taking a stand against LGBTQ youth bullying. I believe that we must start small in order to eventually have it turn into a movement.”

Spirit Day is especially important because LGBTQ youth are bullied at much higher rates than other students, Bukur said.

“74.1 percent of LGBTQ students are verbally harassed because of their sexual identity, and 55.2 percent are verbally harassed because of their gender identity,” she said. “I want the Saint Mary’s campus to come together to show them that they’re not alone.”

Lamar said she and Bukur collaborated to ensure that Spirit Day fosters a comfortable environment on campus, both for students of the College and for others affected by bullying.

“Students can benefit from this cause by creating a safe space for their peers,” Lamar said. “Supporting Spirit Day will help LBGTQ youth by showing them that they have a support system here at Saint Mary’s, and it shows that we care about the problems they face daily.”

Bukur said another goal of Spirit Day is to heighten students’ awareness of the hardships confronting those who identify as LGBTQ.

“I believe this is an important issue because it’s not talked about often,” Bukur said. “Although same-sex marriage was legalized this summer, there are still many other issues facing the LGBTQ community.”

Bukur said she and Lamar worked alongside president of Sociology Club, senior Cara Firestein, to promote Spirit Day as a campus-wide event.

“One of our hopes is that people will be prompted to learn more about the bullying that LGBTQ youth are often subject to, so that they can help to prevent it in the future,” Firestein said. “Bullying happens far too often, especially among LGBTQ youth. Until people begin standing up against this mistreatment, progress will not be made.”

Firestein said she hopes students recognize today’s significance as they strive to end intolerance against the LGBTQ community.

“It is incredibly disheartening to know that LGBTQ youth are bullied at such high rates for simply being true to themselves,” Firestein said. “I think that having events like Spirit Day on campus helps to promote further awareness, compassion, acceptance and diversity among our student body.”

Bukur said she hopes today reinforces the importance of acceptance.

“The goal of celebrating Spirit Day is to educate students on the issues facing the LGBTQ community,” Bukur said. “I would really like for people to begin to take a stand to change the way LGBTQ youth are treated.”

To pledge to wear purple in support of bullied LGBTQ youth, visit glaad.org/spiritday.

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About Martha Reilly

Martha is a senior majoring in English literature and political science. She currently serves as Saint Mary's editor but still values the Oxford comma in everyday use.

Contact Martha