What's with all the purple? It's Spirit Day, and it's not too late to get involved.

In 2010, high schooler Brittany McMillan organized the first Spirit Day, a way for allies to stand up to LGBT bullying.

She teamed up with LGBT media advocacy group GLAAD to help spread the word, urging people to show solidarity with LGBT youth and send an anti-bullying message by wearing purple on a specific date in October. Since its founding, Spirit Day — which is now an annual event on the third Thursday in October — has become an international movement celebrated by millions of people around the world.


But c'mon, it's not like it's that hard being an LGBT student these days, right? Well...

More than half of LGBT students feel unsafe at school because of their sexual orientation. Nearly 75% of these students have been verbally harassed, and 36% have been physically harassed for being LGBT.


Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names can never hurt me, though, right?

Wrong.

According to the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN)'s 2013 National School Climate Survey, hostile school experiences have a very real, lasting effect on students. Verbal harassment has been linked to lower grades and self-esteem and a higher risk of depression, and it makes it less likely that students will go on to college.

Getting called anti-LGBT slurs can take a real toll on someone. GIFs via GLAAD.

And sometimes, it's easy to feel like you're all alone in the world.

But that's just kids being kids, right? Surely teachers and school staff have their backs, right? Not really.

"It's a Christian school. The teacher didn't care, and even told kids to watch out for me because she thought I would turn them gay," an Alabama high school senior told GLSEN in the survey.

More than 60% of the time, school staff ignored reports of anti-LGBT harassment by students. The harasser received any form of punishment only less than 20% of the time. Most disturbingly, in roughly 10% of reports, the student doing the reporting was the one disciplined. (WTF?)

Sometimes, anti-LGBT discrimination is built right into school policy.

Just this week, a suburban Chicago school district defied the federal government by banning a trans student from using the restroom, citing privacy and safety issues — even though there's absolutely zero evidence that a trans student poses any sort of threat.

Spirit Day is an important reminder to vulnerable LGBT youth that they aren't alone, that they have support.

It's a chance for students, teachers, friends, family, and really just anyone who's against treating people differently because of their gender or sexuality to show a visible sign of support.

Whether you're able to show your support in person by wearing purple or just online (yes, there's an app for that), Spirit Day is a quick way to say, "Hey, I've got your back."

Solidarity! Support!

Interested in learning how you can be a part of Spirit Day? Visit GLAAD's website or watch the video below.

Images courtesy of Mark Storhaug & Kaiya Bates

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The experiences we have at school tend to stay with us throughout our lives. It's an impactful time where small acts of kindness, encouragement, and inspiration go a long way.

Schools, classrooms, and teachers that are welcoming and inclusive support students' development and help set them up for a positive and engaging path in life.

Here are three of our favorite everyday actions that are spreading kindness on campus in a big way:

Image courtesy of Mark Storhaug

1. Pickleball to Get Fifth Graders Moving

Mark Storhaug is a 5th grade teacher at Kingsley Elementary in Los Angeles, who wants to use pickleball to get his students "moving on the playground again after 15 months of being Zombies learning at home."

Pickleball is a paddle ball sport that mixes elements of badminton, table tennis, and tennis, where two or four players use solid paddles to hit a perforated plastic ball over a net. It's as simple as that.

Kingsley Elementary is in a low-income neighborhood where outdoor spaces where kids can move around are minimal. Mark's goal is to get two or three pickleball courts set up in the schoolyard and have kids join in on what's quickly becoming a national craze. Mark hopes that pickleball will promote movement and teamwork for all his students. He aims to take advantage of the 20-minute physical education time allotted each day to introduce the game to his students.

Help Mark get his students outside, exercising, learning to cooperate, and having fun by donating to his GoFundMe.

Image courtesy of Kaiya Bates

2. Staying C.A.L.M: Regulation Kits for Kids

According to the WHO around 280 million people worldwide suffer from depression. In the US, 1 in 5 adults experience mental illness and 1 in 20 experience severe mental illness, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Kaiya Bates, who was recently crowned Miss Tri-Cities Outstanding Teen for 2022, is one of those people, and has endured severe anxiety, depression, and selective mutism for most of her life.

Through her GoFundMe, Kaiya aims to use her "knowledge to inspire and help others through their mental health journey and to spread positive and factual awareness."

She's put together regulation kits (that she's used herself) for teachers to use with students who are experiencing stress and anxiety. Each "CALM-ing" kit includes a two-minute timer, fidget toolboxes, storage crates, breathing spheres, art supplies and more.

Kaiya's GoFundMe goal is to send a kit to every teacher in every school in the Pasco School District in Washington where she lives.

To help Kaiya achieve her goal, visit Staying C.A.L.M: Regulation Kits for Kids.

Image courtesy of Julie Tarman

3. Library for a high school heritage Spanish class

Julie Tarman is a high school Spanish teacher in Sacramento, California, who hopes to raise enough money to create a Spanish language class library.

The school is in a low-income area, and although her students come from Spanish-speaking homes, they need help building their fluency, confidence, and vocabulary through reading Spanish language books that will actually interest them.

Julie believes that creating a library that affirms her students' cultural heritage will allow them to discover the joy of reading, learn new things about the world, and be supported in their academic futures.

To support Julie's GoFundMe, visit Library for a high school heritage Spanish class.

Do YOU have an idea for a fundraiser that could make a difference? Upworthy and GoFundMe are celebrating ideas that make the world a better, kinder place. Visit upworthy.com/kindness to join the largest collaboration for human kindness in history and start your own GoFundMe.

This article originally appeared on 10.23.15


Getting people who don't suffer from anxiety issues to understand them is hard.

People have tried countless metaphors and methods to describe what panic and anxiety is like. But putting it into the context of a living nightmare, haunted house style, is one of the more effective ways I've ever seen it done.

Brenna Twohy delivered the riveting poetic analogy recently in Oakland, starting out by going off about some funny "Goosebumps" plots. It's lovely, funny, sweet, and relatable, and it's totally worth the short time to watch.

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When a pet is admitted to a shelter it can be a traumatizing experience. Many are afraid of their new surroundings and are far from comfortable showing off their unique personalities. The problem is that's when many of them have their photos taken to appear in online searches.

Chewy, the pet retailer who has dedicated themselves to supporting shelters and rescues throughout the country, recognized the important work of a couple in Tampa, FL who have been taking professional photos of shelter pets to help get them adopted.

"If it's a photo of a scared animal, most people, subconsciously or even consciously, are going to skip over it," pet photographer Adam Goldberg says. "They can't visualize that dog in their home."

Adam realized the importance of quality shelter photos while working as a social media specialist for the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"The photos were taken top-down so you couldn't see the size of the pet, and the flash would create these red eyes," he recalls. "Sometimes [volunteers] would shoot the photos through the chain-link fences."

That's why Adam and his wife, Mary, have spent much of their free time over the past five years photographing over 1,200 shelter animals to show off their unique personalities to potential adoptive families. The Goldbergs' wonderful work was recently profiled by Chewy in the video above entitled, "A Day in the Life of a Shelter Pet Photographer."