In a world that often feels hostile, it’s important for LGBTI+ young people to receive affirmation. That’s the purpose of Wear It Purple Day, which this year falls on Friday 26 August. This year’s theme is “Still me, still human”.
The pressures were great enough before, but an article in The Lancet published on 22 December 2021 outlines how the COVID-19 pandemic has added to the stress that young queer people feel.
Authors Cameron K Ormiston and Faustine Williams write: “Before COVID-19, LGBTQ youth bore a disproportionate burden of mental health problems, with their sexual and gender identity being risk factors for victimisation, trauma, discrimination, and abuse.
“Also, LGBTQ youth, especially non-binary and transgender youth, are at a higher risk for depression, suicide, substance use, and anxiety …
“Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, more than 50 per cent of sexual and gender minority youth in the USA have reported increased anxiety or depressive symptoms.
“Factors likely to be implicated in such findings are isolation from support systems, absence of family support (only 33 per cent of LGBTQ youth report living in an LGBTQ-affirming home during the pandemic), and disruptions to health services.
“The lack of family support is especially alarming given LGBTQ youth who experience parental rejection are at increased risk of suicide and depression.”
That makes initiatives like Wear It Purple all the more important. Its principles are:
- advocate for and empower rainbow young people
- celebrate and promote the value of diversity and inclusion in all community settings
- raise awareness about sexuality, sex and gender identity and challenge harmful social cultures
- champion rainbow role-models to help young people establish the confidence to be who they are.
Universities, schools and all other youth spaces are encouraged to take part before and on the day – by organising an event, lighting up buildings in purple, putting up posters or hosting a purple-themed morning tea.