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Marcel Neergaard Headshot

Wearing Purple Can Save Lives

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I've got spirit, yes I do. I've got spirit, how 'bout you!? Did you know showing your spirit could save lives? By wearing purple on October 17, you are standing with millions of people against bullying and supporting LGBT youth for Spirit Day. For kids like me it's more than purple shirts -- it's not feeling alone.

In fifth grade as I shuffled down the crowded halls, I feared at any second one of my classmates would attack me with names like "faggot" and "gayferd." Who is supportive? Who isn't? Will I lose friends? Who can I talk to? Those questions flashed across my mind with every step I took. That kind of fear can drive a person to suicide because it seems like the only way to quiet the pain. Especially in Christian communities like mine, it's easy to assume everyone is unsupportive and feel lonely. Nobody can see inside the mind of a terrified young student, and nobody knows when they will reach their breaking point. By wearing purple on Spirit Day, these pained students will realize they have allies.

Since Spirit Day occurs during fall break, my school celebrated Spirit Day a week early. Instead of menacing halls populated by judgmental peers, I witnessed love, support and bursts of purple. I wanted to hug them all. My friends who didn't participate either forgot or didn't know about Spirit Day in the first place. I was delighted to be a part of such a welcoming community. My hope is for everyone to feel included instead of isolated.

One of the benefits of all that purple is students become informed about discrimination. Students who understand the struggles, defend their classmates and don't participate in bullying. I found each time I explained why I was wearing purple, I was creating more allies. If that happens everywhere, school environments will improve especially for LGBT youth. This accepting environment helps tormented youth step away from the cliff of suicide. To put it succinctly, wear purple, show you're an ally and save lives.

For more information about Spirit Day visit GLAAD's website.