By Lana Leonard GLAAD.org | October 21, 2022
Politicians throughout the nation unite in GLAAD’s anti-bullying campaign, Spirit Day. This day is to influence awareness of the LGBTQ community against lethal harms that bullying causes. This includes at the legislative level and beyond. Here’s a look at the LGBTQ politicians and allies who stood in solidarity on Spirit Day 2022:
US Senator Tammy Duckworth of Illinois
Duckworth is a supporter of the Equality Act and its reintroduction in 2019. She continued her support in 2022 by joining a cohort of Illinois Senators to recognize June as LGBTQ pride month.
US Senator Tammy Baldwin of Wisonsin
Baldwin was the first openly gay US Senator in history. She is a staunch supporter of LGBTQ rights. Baldwin’s focus is also on proper investigations in bias related violence against transgender women of color while she is in office. She believes the Equality Act is a start and is working towards getting it passed into law.
US Representative Ritchie Torres of New York
In 2020 Torres was the first openly gay Afro-Latino elected to Congress. In 2021 he partnered with LGBT Chamber of Commerce to persuade America’s largest city to adopt a certification program for LGBTQ enterprises. An amend to the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, therefore, giving money back to LGBTQ, women and minority owned small businesses discriminated by creditors. Torres said this legislation would be a “natural compliment” to the Equality Act.
US Representative Mary Gay Scanlon of Pennsylvania
Scanlon has been a long supporter of the LGBTQ community. In 2018 she joined the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus and signed on as a cosponsor of the Equality Act (2018), legislation that will bring full, legal civil rights protections to the LGBTQ community. This fight continues today.
US Representative Sylvia Garcia of Texas
Garcia has a history for standing up for reproductive justice, gender-based violence and the Respect for Marriage Act. During House Floor remarks in July Garcia championed The Respect for Marriage Act. “Love is love,” she said.
US Representative Linda Sánchez of California
Earlier this month Sánchez began commemorating LGBTQ history month and its overlap of Latine Heritage Month. Throughout the summer she’s been pushing legislation to protect marriage equality at the federal level with the Respect for Marriage Act as well as reproductive rights with the The Right to Contraception Act, which would protect both people’s access to contraceptives and the ability of health care providers to provide contraceptives and information related to them.
State Representative Greg Harris of Illinois
Harris self-defines as a LGBTQ lawmaker. He is openly HIV positive and the first openly gay person to hold the important role of Illinois House Majority Leader
State Representative Joe Webster of Pennsylvania
Webster is a strong equality candidate. He’s used his policy making power and collaborative efforts with the LGBTQ+ Equality Caucus to introduce legislation that would destigmatize, and create a safer and easier, name-change process for LGBTQ Pennsylvanians, especially transgender, non-binary and gender expansive people in the commonwealth.
State Representative Maria Perez of New Hampshire
Perez was elected in 2020. She’s a proud Salvadoran and representative of New Hampshire. Perez is a firm ally to the LGBTQ community. She stands with the United Nations this Spirit Day for the “Free & Equal Campaign: United Nations for LGBTI Equality” campaign with a mission to build safe schools for all!
State Representative Marcelino Quiñonez of Arizona
A first-generation college student Quiñonez says he is proud to serve Arizona. He opposes perpetuated religious-based discrimination against transgender youth and supports LGBTQ equality.
GLAAD organizes celebrities, media outlets, brands, landmarks, sports leagues, faith groups, school districts, organizations, colleges and universities in what has become the most visible anti-LGBTQ bullying campaign in the world. Purple symbolizes spirit on the rainbow flag.
The annual tradition was started in 2010 by GLAAD and then high school student Brittany McMillan, in memory of the LGBTQ youth who died by suicide. McMillan encouraged her friends to wear purple on a day in October — a day that came to be known as Spirit Day.
Today, LGBTQ youth, and especially trans and nonbinary youth, are experiencing a level of scrutiny in schools we have never seen, leading to an environment rife with stressors beyond the peer-to-peer bullying of the past. From book bans, to bans on trans youth in sports, to bathroom restrictions and teachers barred from using correct pronouns, the means by which a student can express themselves and see others like them are increasingly being challenged.
GLSEN’s National School Climate Survey, released earlier this week, reported nearly 82% of LGBTQ students feel unsafe in school. 76% experienced in-person verbal harassment (e.g., called names or threatened) and 31% were physically harassed. Earlier this year, The Trevor Project reported 85% of transgender and nonbinary youth say that recent debates around anti-trans bills have negatively impacted their mental health.
GLAAD’s 2022 Social Media Safety Index found severe harassment for LGBTQ users when compared to 2021. This anti-LGBTQ rhetoric translates to real-life harm and has been cited as drivers of many of the over 300 anti-LGBTQ bills introduced in states around the country this year alone, many of which target LGBTQ young people.
Take the Spirit Day pledge to show LGBTQ youth you’ve got their backs at glaad.org/spiritday.
For more information on Spirit Day, visit glaad.org/spiritday and follow @GLAAD on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and TikTok to keep up to date with #SpiritDay news.
GLAAD rewrites the script for LGBTQ acceptance. As a dynamic media force, GLAAD tackles tough issues to shape the narrative and provoke dialogue that leads to cultural change. GLAAD protects all that has been accomplished and creates a world where everyone can live the life they love. For more information, please visit www.glaad.org or connect with GLAAD on Facebook and Twitter.