It’s “Spirit Day.” Apparently, that means I’m supposed to be wrapped in purple doing my best impression of Grimace from McDonalds in order to save LGBT kids from being bullied. I’m not wearing purple, nor did I change my Facebook avatar to a red Human Rights Campaign logo back in June.
Why? Because this alone is slacktivism, plain and simple. This is an opportunity for people to say, “Welp, I did my part. Good job, me,” and go about their day. “Did you hear about that girl who committed suicide after being bullied by her classmates for being gay? I don’t know how that happened. I mean, I wore purple on “Spirit Day,” what more do they want from me?”
If you actually want to have an impact on the lives of LGBT children, you need to do more than wear a certain color or post something on Facebook.
Earlier this week, Fox News ran a debunked (and retracted by the original source) article on their website accusing a trans student in Colorado of harassing girls in the bathroom. Since other news outlets weren’t willing to do the necessary vetting of this story, Cristan Williams took it upon herself to get in touch with the school’s superintendent, who went on to say:
Nothing has actually been verified with us. This is one parent basically bringing their viewpoint about this situation to the media because they weren’t getting the responses that they hoped they would get from the district, from parents of students at the high school, or from the board and myself. So I think it’s just an attempt to elevate the situation to a point where maybe some more attention can be drawn to that in the hope of having a different outcome.
In other words, this story is a fake, a fraud. Still, as of this writing, the article “Girls ‘Harassed’ In School Bathroom By Transgender Student Told His Rights Trump Their Privacy” remains live on FoxNews.com without so much as an editor’s note or a retraction. Earlier this week, I wrote about a former GOP official who believes transgender individuals belong in concentration camps. Both the Fox News story and Kincannon’s comments are bullying.
Want to do something that has a little more impact than changing your Facebook avatar or wearing a purple shirt? Try the following:
1. Stop shopping at businesses that use their profits to fund anti-LGBT causes. I know Chik-fil-a is pretty decent (as far as fast food is concerned), but their political arm (the WinShape Foundation) donates to some virulently anti-LGBT groups who work to deny equal rights to all citizens. Here’s a list of additional organizations that have been tied to anti-gay donations.
2. Stop electing officials who believe LGBT kids (and adults) shouldn’t have the same rights as the rest of the population. Call your Congressman. Do they support the passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act? Do they support laws banning harmful “Gay Conversion Therapy?” Do they stand by the rights of gay and trans kids in terms of anti-bullying laws and equal access provisions? If not, that’s your cue to not only vote for someone else, but evangelize.
3. Look into your local school district’s policy on bullying. Does your local K-12 school have a comprehensive anti-bullying policy in place to protect LGBT students? Whether or not you have a child in the school, feel free to pop into their next board meeting. They’re generally posted on the school’s website, and usually open to the public. If there’s not a policy in place, work with them to pass one.
4. Report false information to outlets like GLAAD and the FCC. See something blatantly false on the airwaves? That’s in violation of FCC rules. Go ahead, file a complaint against Fox News the next time they plug incorrect information. See someone promote homophobic or transphobic language in print/TV/online media? Report that to GLAAD.
There’s nothing wrong with wearing purple or changing your Facebook avatar, but understand that doing so is a start, not a finish. If you want to make a positive impact, you’ll need to take additional action.