US activists are calling on President Obama and Governor Mitt Romney to wear purple to show their support for bullied LGBT youth on October 19, marked as Spirit Day.

Participants wear purple or change their social media profile pictures to purple on this day to stand against anti-gay bullying. The colour purple in the gay rainbow flag represents spirit.

A petition urging the two US presidential candidates to wear something purple has been launched by anti-bullying advocate and Spirit Day ambassador Katy Butler through Change.org and GLAAD.

“Last year millions of people told LGBT kids they are not alone – just by wearing purple. And who better to send that message than the two candidates trying to be the leader of our country?” Butler wrote in the introduction to the petition.

“If both of these influential men participate by simply wearing purple it will show LGBT teens like me that there are powerful people who care about us,” Butler said.

“I know what it’s like to feel alone, and seeing two of our country’s political leaders show that they care about our lives could make a huge difference to LGBT students who are 3-5 times more likely to experience depression and attempt suicide than their counter parts.”

Spirit Day was started in 2010 by Canadian teenager Brittany McMillan in honour of LGBT teens who committed suicide due to anti-gay bullying. The day is now marked by individuals, corporations and organisations.

This year, celebrities such as Shaquille O’Neal, Perez Hilton, George Takei, Chaz Bono, Fran Drescher and Cyndi Lauper will take part by going purple on October 19.

Corporations, including Facebook, Hewlett-Packard Company, Hyatt, Saatchi & Saatchi, Warner Bros and Yahoo!, will also participate in Spirit Day.

The New York Stock Exchange, Thomson Reuters’ Times Square screen, the LAX Pylon Lights and JFK traffic tower will light up purple for the day.

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