Thursday, October 16, 2014

#spiritday and the #episcopalchurch

Spirit Day. The day millions go purple on Spirit Day in a stand against bullying and to show their support for LGBT youth. Observed annually since 2010, individuals, schools, organizations, corporations, and public figures wear purple, which symbolizes 'spirit' on the rainbow flag. And some of us change our FB profile pics purple.

And then the question becomes: what do we do tomorrow? When the purple is back in the closet (so to speak) and kids are still at risk and homophobia and transphobia are still real and present and bullying and killing our youth?

Here's what the Episcopal Church did -- at its General Convention in 2012: pass a resolution calling the whole church to take up the challenge of being the change we want to see in the lives of our precious young people by creating a church wide response to bullying 24/7 ... not just 10/16.

Respond to Bullying | 2012-D022

Resolved, That the 77th General Convention calls for a church wide response to the epidemic of bullying, particularly of those perceived as being “different” by virtue of economic, ethnic, racial or physical characteristics, religious status, sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression; bullying is defined as the recurring use of single or combined written, verbal or electronic expressions or physical acts or gestures, directed at any person that: result in physical or emotional harm to the person or damage to his/her property; places the person in reasonable fear of harm to him/herself or of damage to her/his property; creates an intimidating or hostile environment for the person; impacts the rights of the victim. Bullying shall include cyber-bullying through electronic/social media, telephonic technology or other means; and be it further

Resolved, That the General Convention encourage new partnerships among our congregations, dioceses, campus ministries, National Association of Episcopal Schools, public schools, counseling centers, and governmental organizations in order to support and offer preventative programs addressing bullying, harassment, and other related violence, especially with higher risk populations; and be it further

Resolved, That these partnerships be encouraged to create or join with existing required programs designed to recognize and prevent abuse, neglect, and exploitation in our church settings which:
  • utilize positive, inclusive, empowering and developmentally appropriate materials
  • raise participants' awareness about the issue
  • focus on prevention
  • seek to change bystander behavior into ally behavior
  • create partnerships between youth and adults
  • provide intervention and treatment for those who exhibit bullying behavior.
Will one resolution passed by one church council end the scourge of bullying that plagues our LGBT kids? Of course not.

But we do believe -- I do believe -- that lifting our collective voice, putting the official energy of the Episcopal Church behind this challenge to speak out, reach out, step out and -- when necessary -- ACT out on behalf of our vulnerable youth is exactly what we both can and should be doing. And this resolution is part of that commitment.

So Happy Spirit Day! Put on your purple, stand up against bullying and together let's be that change we want to see.

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