School students across Australia will wear purple ribbons, badges and articles of clothing to show support for same-sex attracted and gender questioning young people at risk of suicide on Friday, September 2.

Friday marks the second Wear It Purple day, a student-led initiative that started last year following a spate of suspected gay bullying-related youth suicides in the US.

Wear It Purple founder Katherine Hudson told the Star Observer the campaign’s focus is to target schools.

“It’s turned from being a movement that’s been driven by negative emotions, like sorrow … into being a positive movement, sending a message of support right to the heart of schools across the world,” Hudson said.

“This year we’ve made [Wear It Purple day] however you want to express it. It’s really important it’s about accepting people for who they are and that means showing that any way you like.

“Each school is [marking the day] differently. Some schools are doing it as a fundraising event. Some schools are doing it as an underground event because their principal wouldn’t approve it, so kids are just wearing a purple ribbon in their hair and trying to be a bit cautious about it.”

Hudson said 20 schools nationwide will take part in the day while dozens more students, including some from New Zealand, the US and the UK, will participate as individuals at other schools.

“We’re really trying to encourage community spirit around this so people recognise people who support them and care for them in their local area, even if their parents and family don’t,” she said.

Australian research shows same-sex attracted young people are up to three times more likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual peers, and rural same-sex attracted young people are up to six times more likely to attempt suicide than the population as a whole.

Leading the Wear It Purple campaign at Sydney’s St George Girls High School, Year 9 student Brenna Harding said students will sell 300 badges and purple ribbons to spread the acceptance message.

“I hope every person in my school will wear a purple ribbon on Friday,” Harding told the Star Observer. “We have lots of posters up and teachers are on board.”

Harding said she felt her school was a welcoming environment for students who didn’t identify as straight, but said the statistics of self-harm among LGBTI youth are alarming.

“I think we need to create this environment where [young people] feel they’re supported and know there’re people who love them,” she said.

INFO: www.wearitpurple.org

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