By Ellen McGirt
Updated: October 18, 2018 9:59 AM ET

Tomorrow is the third Thursday in October which means it’s Spirit Day, a now-annual event produced by GLAAD and designed to show support for LGBTQ+ youth while drawing attention to the bullying and targeting they still receive. It’s also increasingly becoming an opportunity for corporations to get their allyship on.

“Spirit Day is a day of national importance that highlights the serious issue of bullying and its disproportionate impact on LGBTQ youth,” GLAAD CEO and President Sarah Kate Ellis said in a statement. Some 85% of LGBTQ students report being verbally harassed at school and 57% of students don’t bother to report incidents because they fear nothing will be done. They may not be wrong. Some 63% of students who do report were told to ignore the abuse.

Target, Hilton, and Wells Fargo are major sponsors of the Spirit Day rally and campaign-kickoff, a star-studded event filled with affirmation and hope. Tyra Banks, Sterling K. Brown, Stephen Colbert, Laverne Cox, Rosario Dawson, Alyssa Milano, MJ Rodriguez, and Britney Spears are all scheduled to appear in some form. Other sponsors include Johnson & Johnson, the NBA and WNBA, as well as supporting partners Kellogg’s, Barilla, Kirkland & Ellis, and Zipcar, who will all participate in the anti-bullying campaign.

Spirit Day is a relatively young campaign. It began in 2010, founded by then-teenager Brittany McMillan after a spate of LGBTQ youth died by suicide after being bullied. Her idea was to get her high school friends to wear purple on a dedicated day in October to send a message of support; picked up by the good people of GLAAD, it’s now a global event.

GLAAD has a Spirit Day guide for corporations here, and plenty of ideas of how individuals can participate—wearing purple, getting informed, and amplifying the messages shared under the #SpiritDay hashtag seems great ways to start.

A little support can go a long way. As McMillian said, “Ultimately I want Spirit Day to make just one person to feel better about his or herself, to feel safe in their own skin, and to be proud of who they are.”

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