Not quite purple prose for ‘wear it purple day’

How should people not on board with the aims of “wear it a purple day” respond when it comes to your school? It is coming soon. Wear it Purple Day is August 26 in 2022. 

Your school might ask students to wear purple clothing. Other options include a purple wristband, decorating part of a school building in purple or holding other activities. The most common – as the name implies – will be to wear something purple. 

Purple is but one colour, but “wear it purple” is a “rainbow” day: defines four aims:

  • 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.

From their list, it appears that the purple day organisers see the day as a defensive exercise. They want to create a secure space for “rainbow” youth, to make sure that they are protected and made welcome in a school environment. But people with a different view may see it as coercive – a sea of purple will make others feel like outsiders. These two convictions regarding the day unavoidably collide.


Once upon a time on Uni campuses, a day in support of LGBT people was known as “gay blue jeans day.” Many people wore jeans to campus back then, blue was the new black. So perhaps a third of people would be wearing jeans on a “normal” day.

A protest against the unsubtle coercion involved came from an unexpected source. The editor of Melbourne Uni’s student paper Farrago turned the back page into a poster satirising gay blue jeans day.  “Wear shoes on foot fetish day” it read. Cue outrage, and anger on the left. The editor involved later became a senior cabinet minister in a Federal Labor government.

But protesting by ridicule is unlikely to commend itself these days. But the story underlines the troubling issue of coercion or peer pressure involved in colour days. Would asking students to wear white, looking forward to heaven, be any better? But we also know that peer pressure has been used to further Christianity in the past. You can still see a gaggle of children dressed in white for the first communion if you visit an Italian village on the right day.

Let’s acknowledge that we are troubled by coercion but not allow that to build resentment.

Who is in the rainbow? 

It is worth considering who is in the rainbow. uses the LGBTQIA+ acronym. The I stands for intersex, Q for Queer and Questioning and A for Asexual, and in their usage, the plus stands for other gender identities. Other progressives will use the plus to include other minority groups such as people with a disability.

In this list are groups that even the most socially conservative will be supportive of. “Asexual” includes those who wish to be celibate, “Intersex” describes those with genetic or physical characteristics, rare but very real for them, and “Queer “is becoming a very broad term including those troubled by gender stereotypes.

The complexity of the LGBTQIA+ spectrum needs to be taken into account when responding to purple day. Taking a traditional/orthodox Christian view will not mean opposition to what all of the letters stand for.

And then there is what all the letter groups have in common with everyone else – they all are students, young people, that are vulnerable to criticism (or worse), and deserving of welcome and respect. Statistics suggest that the students purple day aims to protect are especially at risk of self harm or suicide.

The Footballers

Three responses to LGBTQIA+ issues by footballers taking a public stand offer us options for purple day.

  1. Israel Folau was loud and forceful. Rugby union player Folau did not intend his tweet in response to a question on Twitter to become famous. But he wanted to make a bold and absolute stand. He went straight to the subject of hell, proclaiming that “gays” would go there. Besides being loud it was an instant and prefabricated response, plucked from a meme store.

    Most people who might take this route for purple day probably have their children in homeschooling or a conservative Christian school. So a purple confrontation is unlikely for them.

    But there may be Christians who somehow feel that they need a Folau approach to purple day, can I suggest one verse that Folau might have considered when asked about his views? “But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, (I Peter 3:15)
  2. Haneen Zreika is a 23-year-old Australian rules footballer playing for the Greater Western Sydney Giants in the AFL Women’s (AFLW). She stood down from playing in the pride round early this year, because it involved a jumper, having played in the round last year which had no jumper. She made the decision not to wear the jumper because of her Muslim faith, explaining her reasons quietly to her teammates.

    Zreika provides a dignified example to students who could decline to wear purple. In her case, she did not play in the pride game. Following her example, a student may stay home, or perhaps attend school in a regular uniform. Zreika simply said that she did not want to let her family or faith community down, a gentle form of words that could be useful.
  3. Last month seven Manly Rugby League players stood down for a game where their team was to wear a rainbow-decorated jumper. Unlike the Zreika case, there was a breakdown in communication and a media circus ensued. But the players stood firm, although not making a public statement themselves. There’s something to be said for keeping quiet.

    Likely, a group of students rejecting purple won’t fly under the radar, but having good communication with the school is advisable. The media circus was amplified in the Manly Seven case because not knowing what was going to happen added to the drama. Let’s keep things calm.

    There was debate about whether the Manly jumper was for “pride” or inclusion generally. That ambiguity might be the case at your school.
  4. Let’s add a fourth response. Some Christian footballers may have chosen to play in a pride jumper – and most of us will endorse at least SOME of what the jumper stands for. In League teams, it is likely though that Christian’s ultimate allegiance will be made known through prayer circles – and they happen each week, not just once a year.

    In the same way, local Christians connect at Church, or in NSW and Queensland at weekly “scripture” lessons at schools. We have better ways to show our faith than having a clash over purple, whether we wear it or not.

Purple haze

Christian parents and students will come to different views about wear it purple. Some will stay at home, others will go to school in purple. Others will go to school not in purple at all. 

Someone not wearing purple might say “I have different views and another loyalty, to Jesus”. Someone wearing purple might say “I want to respect you. I will disagree sometimes though.”

Others will stay away or be simply silent.

It will be important to do what best helps the students in your family. Who may be shy, or bold. They might be articulate or quiet. They might have LGBTIQA+ friends and that might make a difference. They may be popular, have a strong friendship network or be isolated – and you might not wish to make that worse. They might have other ways to express their faith like the footballers have prayer circles. At the end of the day, whether your family chooses to wear purple or defy it, you remain united in Christ with the other Christians around you whether they make the same decision or not.


Christian students will likely come to see themselves as a minority. That can be hard for teenagers in a “fitting in” phase. When we get to heaven we can ask God why a majority of Australians don’t follow Jesus. But in the meantime let’s be a joyful minority that cares. 

It may be that the purple-wearing student down the road is the one you should invite home. Don’t let the purple stop you.

Someone close to me finished high school with two good friends, one a lesbian, and the other a Muslim. Christian kids should be good friends. Don’t let the purple stop you.