October 18, 2017

Multnomah Youth Commission Encourages Participating in Spirit Day

We, the Multnomah Youth Commission (MYC), invite you to join us on October 19th, 2017 in participating in GLAAD’s Spirit Day. Spirit Day is a national awareness campaign started by a young person with the purpose of speaking out and standing against bullying and violence towards LGBTQIA+ youth, who disproportionately face bullying and harassment because of their identities.

MYC supports Spirit Day because we believe that youth should feel safe to express their sexual orientation and gender identity at school and other locations without fear of violence—physical or otherwise.

“Our Bill of Rights, Children + Youth” (YBOR) was adopted ten years ago by the City of Portland and Multnomah County. This document was the first bill of rights in the United States that was created by young people, for young people, and supported by local government. Article 2 states “Students’ physical and mental safety and health should be protected inside, outside, and around their school.” Article 5 of the YBOR says we have the right to freedom from discrimination and prejudice. We take all parts of our Youth Bill of Rights seriously as it guides our work.

One of our committees, Youth Against Violence (YAV), has identified LGBTQIA+ violence as one of the top 7 forms of violence faced by young people in our community. Furthermore, we have created policy recommendations aimed at reducing LGBTQIA+ violence because these youth are at high risk of harassment, assault, houselessness, dropping out of school, and suicide. Over 85% of LGBTQIA+ students still report receiving verbal harassment from other students based on their identities, and over 50% have heard homophobic and cissexist remarks from teachers and other school staff. Nearly 65% of students who reported bullying received no assistance from school staff. Three of our policy recommendations ask schools and other youth-focused organizations to conduct trainings to promote understanding and acceptance of LGBTQIA+ people and to promote suicide prevention and intervention supports. We also call for all school districts to ensure that LGBTQIA+ students are named in district anti-discrimination policies and to actively work to protect the rights of these students.

We believe Spirit Day will bring these issues to light and initiate the first step towards solving them: conversation. Furthermore, it is the duty of the MYC as the official youth policy body of the City of Portland and Multnomah County to connect the youth in our community with our elected officials to engage them in making positive change.

MYC encourages all youth and adults in the community to make the pledge to wear purple on October 19th, 2017. We encourage all youth to engage their friends, family, and elected officials in participating in Spirit Day.

If you are unsure of how to engage the adults in your life, we at the MYC have a few suggestions:

  • Ask them to join you in wearing purple on Tuesday, Oct. 19th
  • Challenge supportive adults to donate at http://glaad.org/spiritday?donate, or to any of our local Portland organizations prioritizing the safety and voice of LGBTQIA+ youth, such as Sexual & Gender Minority Youth Resource Center (SMYRC), Oregon Queer Youth Summit (OQYS), or P-FLAG
  • Request them to engage in allyship groups such as P-FLAG
  • Challenge teachers and business owners to pledge to keep hate out of their classrooms and establishments by putting up signs, and challenge yourself to keep them accountable.
  • Post to your social media using #SpiritDay and tag your elected officials (You can find out who your elected officials are by calling Multnomah County Elections office at 503.988.3720 or by going on Facebook and selecting the Town Hall feature.)
  • Visit http://glaad.org/spiritday for more resources