Students at Aragon High School in San Mateo held a moment of silence for teenagers who have killed themselves after being bullied because they were gay or lesbian. Many students also wore purple to honor the victims.
It is meant to signal a better understanding among students and to send a message to gay and lesbian students that they are not alone.
"It says to them that it's OK who you are and I support you," Aragon Gay-Straight Alliance President Jason Galisatus said.
"So many people obviously care so much, so I think it's really great showing that people who get bullied and harassed that they are not alone," sophomore Sam Alavi said.
"I'm not gay, but I think what they do is cool so people can come out and feel safe in our school," junior Luis Ocon said.
That kind of attitude organizers hope will prevail when they are not wearing purple.
Aragon has more than 1,500 students and the administration has made a concerted effort to promote understanding. But there have been incidents.
"[One student] was walking down the ramp and this other guy went out of his way and shoved him with his shoulder and called him a 'faggot' and walked off. It was really brutal for him and it took a lot to report it," Galisatus said.
He did, and the school administration reacted.
"We're very lucky to have an accepting administration who really responds to issues," Galisatus said.
That said, Wednesday's event may not end bullying or change people's opinions, the organizers just want to make the public aware and have people who have been bullied know they can report it.
Purple Shirt Day started on Facebook. It comes at a time when other campaigns like the "It Gets Better" videos are working to assure gay youths that they should not feel isolated.
"It's time that we stop waiting for it to get better and I think it's time we start taking action and making it better ," Galisatus said.