Spirit Day is a day that makes me reflective every year. I remember my first experience with Spirit Day back in 2012, a couple of years in its infancy, and my very straight friend and brilliant educator Paul Bartolomeo implored our staff to wear purple for gay kids. I remember being nervous and wondering what it would mean for me as a gay educator to outwardly show my support for kids who were like me. I wondered if my school community that loved me would turn their backs on me or view me differently. At that point in my career, I was so fearful that I couldn’t even really process how important visible support would be to our kids. I credit Pauly B for not only rocking his own very dapper collared purple shirt but for pushing the rest of us to do the same.
Years later, when my own daughter was starting kindergarten, I understood the importance of Spirit Day not only for 2SLGBTQ+ youth but for the children of 2SLGBTQ+ parents. Through my daughter’s eyes and experiences, I saw how subtle and pervasive homophobia is in schools and how she understood that at the age of four. It was also a time when my own students were begging for a change in our school’s climate for 2SLGBTQ+ kids. It was that year that Spirit Day took on a different meaning for me. It was that year that I was told not to self-identify as gay publicly at school and it was that year that I truly learned the importance of being a strong, visible gay adult.
Visibility is SO important. In fact, it can be life saving. This past week, I sat in a staff meeting where we talked about our District’s data regarding the mental health challenges faced by our transgender students. I also heard discussions this week about how some teachers find it hard to take on the challenge of discussing 2SLGBTQ+ existence in their classrooms. WE EXIST! There ought to be nothing controversial about our existence or the benefits of our contributions and lived experiences in our schools and in our communities.
It’s with all that in my heart that I remember the essence of why Revolution Now was born. We exist to help young people feel heard, loved and appreciated. We exist with the message of transgender artist, Forrest Woods, who gave us our rallying cry of “We Change What We Must”. There is an urgency to creating a more loving and inclusive world.
So on days like Spirit Day there is a part of me that rejoices in the victory of visible existence, visible allyship and the bold efforts of teachers like Paul Bartolomeo to ensure that our kids feel both safe and seen. There is a part of me that can’t even feign cool about it. As someone who has lived my life as a gay woman, the love and allyship that is shown on Spirit Day makes my heart full and provides evidence that the world does change. There is absolutely more work to be done to ensure our kids feel safe and loved every single day but Spirit Day reminds me that it is possible. I would also like to extend my gratitude to the staff at Terry Fox PS and Park Ave PS who outfitted their staff in the message of Forrest Woods. We thank you for your intentionality and for your support.
We are also proud to share that as a result of the sales from our Spirit Day shirts over the last year we have been able to donate $3470 to support programming at the 519. From our team at Revolution Now, we thank each and every one of those hundreds of people who have joined us in our movement to bring revolutionary love to the world. As Margaret Mead so aptly stated, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” Keep slaying Revolutionaries!!!
Let’s Go Change The World,