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#SpiritDay is October 18, 2018

I was bullied as a kid and I know what it feels like. The gym was my least favorite place in school. Kids would mock my lack of skill in sports and I was always the last one chosen on teams. Older girls threatened me with violence for flirting with the wrong person. I was even mocked for using fancy words I learned geeking out in advanced placement classes. These were painful experiences that made me feel ‘not-good-enough’ and led to anxiety and depression, made me vulnerable to sexual violence and inhibited my academic performance.

Mine were fairly minor incidence of bullying compared to what kids today face. I didn’t even know at that point that I wasn’t straight, so I never had to endure the kind of bullying that LGBTQ kids do.

I share my story and challenge you to do the same to help others being bullied feel less alone. The most powerful way to do this is video. A short message like the one below posted on your social media today will go a long way towards helping this campaign.

Bullying is “unwanted, aggressive behavior among school-aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance.” source

Bullying can include verbal harassment, physical harm, social exclusion, and cyber threats. Bullying behaviors are repeatable, targeted, and come with long-lasting consequences.

Less than half of the LGBTQ students bullied in the past year sought help from their schools, according to GLAAD. Many of these kids end up harming themselves or committing suicide. In 2010 a high school student grieving the loss of her friend started Spirit Day as a way to help prevent these tragedies in the future.

Spirit Day shows LGBTQ kids, teens, and young adults, that there are people they can go to for help and acceptance and that their place of learning is safe and welcoming.

85% of LGBTQ students report being verbally harassed

GoDaddy supports Spirit Day

Schools, celebrities, businesses, organizations, and government groups are coming together once again this year on October 18th to participate in Spirit Day. 

As a member of GoDaddy UNITED, our employee resource group designed to help identify opportunities to engage LGBTQ consumers and recruit LGBTQ employees, I’m proud that we are participating. It’s one way we work to make our workplace safe and inviting for people of all genders, sexual orientations, races, religious backgrounds, and abilities.

GoDaddy works to attract and retain diverse talent so that the people building our products reflect the diversity of those who use them. We need all the colors of the rainbow. Bullying of LGBTQ youth threatens to cut off the future technologists we need to recruit. Whether or not you know someone personally impacted by this issue, we all stand to gain by putting an end to bullying of LGBTQ youth.

Simple steps to stop LGBTQ bullying:

Simple Steps to Take Action for Spirit Day

Visit SpiritDay.org to get more informed, sign the pledge and donate to stop bullying of LGBTQ youth.

Stand up to bullies every day.

When I first heard about Spirit Day, I initially thought there wasn’t much I could do. I don’t have any kids of my own, like many tech workers in San Francisco. But then I realized, bullying has taken on a more dramatic scope in the digital age, and we can go beyond wearing purple for a day each year.

When I was young, cyberbullying wasn’t a thing, luckily for me. The anonymous nature and speed of social media have greatly exacerbated the problem. We can fight back against bullies every day, whether we have kids or not, by refusing to ‘feed the trolls’ and standing up for those being bullied.

Learn more about bullying:

Video:

Short Film. Powerful and inspiring (trigger warning: there are violent scenes in this one).

Ted Talks Playlist for Bullying Prevention Month

Podcasts:

The Why Factor BBC (sheds light on why bullying keeps happening. Those who do it tend to advance to enjoy more power)

Changing Perspectives. Young people talking about bullying at their school.

Share your stories, tips, resources and ideas in the comments below, please.