SINCE 2010, the third Thursday in October has been marked as #SpiritDay, when millions of people wear purple and change their social media profile pictures to help create a world in which lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT+) young people are celebrated and accepted for who they are.
It began in 2010 when Canadian high school student Brittany McMillan created it as a response to a series of news reports of young people in the USA who took their own lives because of homophobic bullying. Since then it has grown to become a national US LGBT+ awareness campaign and, increasingly, an international event. I previously shared a reflection on Spirit Day here.
Today I spent time I spent time with 3rd Year Primary Education students at Edge Hill University sharing inspiration and resources for age-appropriate education on gender and sexuality. I shared an earlier version of this lecture here.
After sharing briefly with them the story of Spirit Day, I remembered that Spirit Day was not the only response to that series of young lives lost – there was also It Gets Better, which began as a wildly successful viral video campaign to provide hope and encouragement to young LGBT+ people has become a global movement focused on their empowerment.
More than 60,000 famous and ordinary people shared messages about why ‘It Gets Better’ for young people who were struggling to come to terms with being different and being bullied because of it.
One of my favourite videos in the campaign, which is entirely age-appropriate for primary school students, was recorded by Kermit the Frog, the maestro of The Muppets, in which he shares that ‘it’s not easy being green’, echoing the words of a song he once sang with that same name. Here is Kermit’s ‘It Gets Better’ message:
When this campaign began, I was working with young people at the UK’s longest running LGBT+ youth group based in Liverpool which was divided into young adults and secondary / high school age students. The young adults group made an It Gets Better video in 2010 which you can see here:
Two years later, the younger age group made their own version which you can see here: