ECC Celebrates Spirit Day To Stop Bullying

Lisa Lilianstrom, Staff writer

In a movement to end bullying of LGBT youth, Students Who Are Not Silent, SWANS, observed Spirit day, encouraging staff and students to take a pledge to “go purple” for the day.

Spirit day is a national campaign in the LGBT community, which is typically observed on the third Thursday of October. It was created back in 2010 as a way to show support for LGBT youth and to take a stand against bullying.

SWANS President Flo Perez states that this event is a form to bring awareness of the high rates of of LGBT suicide.

“The goal of the event was to gain more allies and save the lives of those LGBT plus who have or continue to suffer the consequences of being bullied because of their sexuality and/or gender identity,” said Perez.

The event was also to work closely with the students who identify with the LGBT community. According to Perez, SWANS has over 50 student members on their email list, and the number continues to grow. The goal is to spread the message across campus.

“SWANS works close to the students who do not identify with the community, and we see a common theme (bullying ) with most students, and our goal is to spread the word to the rest of the campus and the rest of the LGBT community that bullying will not be tolerated,” said Perez.

People participating could also decorate a cookie of their choosing and read some information about famous LGBT people.

Students and staff took the pledge by putting their hands in purple paint and making hand prints on a big sheet of white paper. Some of them even wrote little messages of hope. ECC Student and SWANS member Rich Shradeja said he wanted to help out because of his good friends in SWANS.

“I’ve always been seen as an outsider myself, so I definitely identify with wanting to help others that are often marginalized because they don’t fit into the “normal people” mold,” said Shradeja.

Spirit Day is also celebrated to help bring awareness to the campus about LGBT issues and the bullying that occurs towards the community.

“It shows the community that there are students who care about the safety and well being of everyone including its LGBT students,” said SWANS member Jessie Segura.

The day was also meant to promote not only tolerance but acceptance among the students and the faculty.

“Our world is made up of many different people, working to do their best to make a positive impact in their lives.  Everyone should have the same opportunity to express themselves regardless of how different we all may be,” said Shradeja.

The event was also meant to let anyone in the community know that they are not alone.

“Remember that you will always be supported by someone. Reach out to a friend or family member you’re comfortable with, a support group, or a support/crisis hotline. You aren’t alone,” said SWANS Publicity Officer Jay Cortez.

Shradeja gave the advice of knowing who you can talk to on campus, such as SWANS, PRIDE support group and the Wellness Services.

“Life is too short to allow other people to define what your life is allowed to be.  There are people on campus that will help support those people that need it,” said Shradeja.

Perez hopes that ECC students and faculty will get the message to never lose hope.

“Don’t ever give up and never believe the lies and insecurities that others project onto you. You are loved and you have a family with the rest that identify as you,” said Perez.