Justice

The White House Just Did Something Great For the LGBT Community

October 15th 2015

By:
Aron Macarow

On Thursday, a torrent of purple may be taking over your social media feed. That's because millions of Americans and individuals around the global celebrate Spirit Day on the third Thursday of October, an annual event in support of LGBTQ youth that calls on everyone to take a stand against bullying.

The campaign was started in 2010 by Canadian high school student Brittany McMillan as a response to the alarming number of gay youth lost to suicide. The event encourages participants to wear purple and post photos to their social media accounts in a visual display of solidarity with the LGBTQ community.

"Ultimately, I want Spirit Day to make just one person feel a little bit better about his or herself, to feel safe enough in their own skin to be proud of who they are," says McMillan of her goals for the campaign, which has become the largest, most visible effort against anti-LGBTQ bullying in the United States.

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Who's sporting purple for #SpiritDay this year?

From students, to celebrities, to entire organizations, many individuals are participating in Spirit Day this year, including Laverne Cox, Ellen Page, Britney Spears, and the casts of HBO's "Game of Thrones" and Netflix's "Orange Is the New Black."

 

A photo posted by laverne cox (@lavernecox) on

 

A photo posted by @ellenpage on

Popular landmarks will light up purple for the day, too, including the NASDAQ building in New York City's Times Square.

This year, it's about more than bullying.

Even the White House has gotten involved, turning their official Facebook and Twitter profile photos purple for this year's occasion as well as holding a Tumblr Q&A about the harm caused by so-called conversion therapy to LGBTQ youth.

In a report released especially for Spirit Day by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), the White House outlines the damage that conversion therapy can cause, clearly stating that it is "not appropriate" for gay or transgender people:

"[V]ariations in sexual orientation and gender identity are normal, and [...] conversion therapies or other efforts to change sexual orientation or gender identity are not effective, are harmful, and are not appropriate therapeutic practices."

Attempts to change sexual orientation or gender identity via conversion therapy have never been proven successful, according to the report. Instead, a review of existing research shows that these behavioral or mental health efforts to alter sexual orientation or gender identity cause "depression, suicidality and anxiety." This is because the practice encourages people to fight or hate something about themselves that can't be changed, which can be especially damaging for LGBTQ youth.

 

Here's why gay conversion therapy is obscene and absurd.

Posted by ATTN: on Sunday, October 11, 2015

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Despite the known problems—which have led every major psychological and medical association in the country to condemn the practice—conversion therapy is still legal in 46 states. This fact, coupled with findings in the new SAMHSA report, led Congress to introduce a ban on conversion therapy for minors only hours after the study was released. That's great news for America's LGBTQ youth.

How can you get involved?

Got purple clothing? Then you can show your support for Spirit Day by wearing it on Oct. 15 and by posting a photo to Facebook, Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag #SpiritDay.

Already at work or school without a purple item in sight? You can still show your support for LGBTQ youth by snapping a photo and turning it purple with this online Spirit Day tool.

Get out there. LGBTQ youth are counting on you.

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