By now most of us have probably heard of Pink Shirt Day. If you haven’t heard of it — or if you’ve forgotten — here’s a brief description of the event that started a nation-wide trend of wearing pink in February:
Why Wear Pink?
The idea of wearing pink originated from a 2007 story in Nova Scotia where a Grade 9 student was bullied for wearing a pink shirt one day.
That same day two students decided to take a stand. They went out, bought 50 pink shirts, and then that evening contacted most of their friends over social media.
The next day before school, these two students handed out 50 pink shirts to these friends and classmates. It was an incredibly visible way to show support for their bullied friend.
SEA OF PINK
I think we can all pretty much relate to a bullying story — a story of one person being intolerant to another. Yes, it happened to me when I was a kid — for most of my Grade 6 year. I also clearly remember the other student’s name and what he did — to this day it elicits a visceral response in me when I think about it.
The intolerance of some people towards others is a societal phenomenon — it’s not just confined to the school yard or hallway. It exists in pretty much every community throughout the world. Intolerance knows no nationality; it knows no age level; it knows no particular ethnicity, gender nor identity. We even occasionally hear intolerance spoken from some political leaders. It’s frightening the words that are sometimes said about others simply because they are somehow different from us or because they believe in something we may not believe in.
I would say that as a school system we work very hard to build compassion and understanding in our students, but when we see intolerance we also work to make things right. It’s rarely easy or straightforward to solve the issue of bullying — if it was easy it would have been done already. Of course, there’s always more we can do, but I am regularly reminded that our schools already do some pretty amazing things to reinforce compassion and understanding.
Intolerance and Bullying Still Exist
There is no one policy, rule or action that has eliminated bullying — and there never will be.
What works to reduce inappropriate behaviour like bullying is education. Schools are critical, but not sufficient in themselves to combat intolerance. We all play a role:
- INTERVENE when someone is being treated poorly,
- REPORT inappropriate behaviour to a responsible adult, and
- Be VISIBLE in our support of others and their differences — no matter whether it is their skin colour, gender, sexual identity or orientation, age or any other characteristic that makes them different.
As a sign of unity against bullying and as a reminder to all of us that we need to continually be vigilant in opposing the intolerance of others, we wear pink on a particular day in February. This year that day is Feb 28th.
On February 28th we stand together by indicating that we do not condone intolerance, prejudice and bullying. Together we believe in a more inclusive and accepting world.
Let’s have Saanich be awash in a Sea of Pink on Feb 28th!