Anti-bullying from a T-shirt
The Day of Pink 2015
By Judianne Jayme
My last article for this column was on the subject of “SLACKtivism” – on spreading information to raise awareness for an issue or cause, which is beneficial, but not pursuing actions because we feel we’ve done all we could, which prevents us from becoming as productive as we could be. This article, I would like to discuss the Day of Pink, an annual event that is celebrated by 9.2 million individuals globally.
The backstory behind the Day of Pink is an inspiring one. In Nova Scotia, in 2007, an openly homosexual high school student was bullied because he was wearing a pink T-shirt. Two heterosexual students intervened but felt they could do more than just stand up to the bullies. They decided to turn it into a statement – to make an even bigger impact than one isolated event. Together, they sent messages to as many people as they could and bought pink T-shirts from a local discount store. Their goal was to make a sea of pink at their school the next day. The messages behind this visual impact? Pink, a stereotypically “feminine” colour, would not be treated as less than other colours. No gender would be discriminated against. You are free to be yourself.
These two students are change makers, understanding the importance of the opportunity they had in front of them to not only spread awareness towards anti-bullying, but also for taking a stand against it.
Currently, the slogan for the Day of Pink found loud and clear on its accompanying booklet is: “A pink shirt doesn’t end bullying. You do.” As an educator, I appreciate how explicit this is. It is altogether too easy to just wear a pink shirt and think you’re making a difference. It’s another level altogether to educate youth about why they are wearing a pink shirt, and have them explain in their words what this shirt has become symbolic of.
Parent tip: activate!
If your child participated in the Day of Pink, or any other school campaigns against bullying, have a sit-down discussion with them about different types of bullying (physical, verbal, social, cyber bullying). On average, one in four students have reported either being a victim of bullying or having witnessed bullying in their school careers. Often, they are either unaware of their next steps, or who to turn to for help, or even how to ask for help. They end up as bystanders, unsure of how to help.
Make it clear to your child that they have options if they are being bullied or if they see bullying. Get them to identify safe adults they trust, and make sure they know how to follow through with their plan of action.
Pink shirts do not stop bullying. People do. Be one of those who takes affirmative action against bullying and encourages the youth to follow suit.
Judianne Jayme is a third year educator teaching sixth grade in the Winnipeg School Division.