COLUMBIA — On Oct. 20, purple stood for support.
Columbia teens from Hickman and Rock Bridge high schools joined almost one and a quarter million people who made pledges on Facebook to wear purple today. The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation sponsored Spirit Day, which encouraged people to wear purple while standing against anti-Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer bullying and supporting LGBTQ youth. Specifically, it was to honor teens who recently committed suicide because of bullying and harassment, some of which were related to perceptions about their sexual orientation.
Wearing a lilac short-sleeved shirt, Rock Bridge junior Sonya Davidson said she decided to participate not only to support the LGBTQ community, but also to stand up to bullying.
“It’s not okay to be a bully,” she said.
Davidson is a member of Rock Bridge’s Gay Straight Alliance, a group that brings students together to promote acceptance.
“I think it’s stupid for someone to be discriminated against because of their sexuality,” Davidson said.
Hickman senior Stephanie Jackman supported those students by wearing a purple shirt and pants.
"People shouldn't have to kill themselves no matter what their sexual orientation is," she said. "All high schools are going to say they are safe, but teachers don't always know what's going on in the student body. We need to make sure that this isn't happening."
In a rainbow top hat and a purple jacket, Hickman sophomore Micah DeSmet said it was important to show respect for those who died.
"People that are out there can see all the purple shirts and know that they are loved and supported," he said.
DeSmet said students are being picked on at Hickman, which he said is the case at any high school.
"People will say things to me," DeSmet said, adding that they call him names. He said he doesn't let those people get to him.
But despite the bullying, DeSmet believes "a lot of people (at Hickman) are supportive."