We’ve all been witness to it before, whether in school, at the workplace or in our communities.  Bullying has either been directed towards us, surrounded us, or we ourselves may have engaged in bullying behaviour before. Bullying can include verbal harassment, physical assault or emotional abuse.  It can be based on race, religion, gender, or sexuality – or simply a difference in power between two people. There have been many attempts in recent years to bring more awareness to bullying on every level and discuss how we can bring it to an end.  One of these initiatives is the International Day of Pink, a phenomenon started by two teenage boys in Nova Scotia.

The International Day of Pink takes place every year on the second Wednesday of April, a day where national and international communities can celebrate diversity and raise awareness for the LGBT community and combat all forms of bullying. This year, on April 11th, 2012 Day of Pink encourages people to wear the colour pink to remind communities that coming together to support their peers can make a difference.

An important question to answer is: How did Day of Pink begin? In 2007, a Grade 9 boy at Central Kings Rural High school in Cambridge, Nova Scotia wore a pink polo shirt to school. He was mocked and harassed by bullies. He was physically threatened and called a homosexual for his choice of clothing. After hearing that a fellow schoolmate had been bullied, two Grade 12 students decided to take action. David Shepherd and Travis Price went to a local discount store and purchased 50 pink shirts to hand out and have other students wear the next day. They e-mailed friends to gain support for the anti-bullying cause that they, at the time, called ‘sea of pink.’

The next day, hundreds of students came to school in pink.  Not a sound from the Grade 9 student’s bullies was heard, which Shepherd says just goes to show what a little activism will do. “If you can get more people against them… to show that we’re not going to put up with it and support each other, then they’re not as big as a group as they think are,” he says.

So why participate in Day of Pink? If you have ever experienced or witnessed discrimination or bullying of any kind, whether it be based on differences in race, religion, economic/social position, politics, or sexual orientation, you can participate in Day of Pink to celebrate diversity, encourage people to be open minded, accept differences, and knock down the barriers created by discrimination and bullying.

JFCY learned about the Day of Pink through the official Day of Pink website, where you can find out how to get involved yourself. If you think you could be the lead on the Day of Pink in your school, organization or community you can become an official Day of Pink Ambassador. Day of Pink Ambassadors are regional volunteers who act to spread the word about the Day of Pink, distribute resources and support local initiatives. Send an email to: Info@DayOfPink.org for more information and on how you can create activities in your community in support of Day of Pink!  You can also check out the official Day of Pink website to learn more.

JFCY’s Public Legal Education (PLE) Team is planning to participate in the Day of Pink. Find us at Dundas Square from 3:30pm-5:30pm on April 11.  Team volunteers will be chatting with the public about our work, as well as handing out candy and bullying resources.  And, of course, we will be wearing pink!  So join us on April 11 at Yonge and Dundas in Toronto. 

Thanks to PLE Team members and JFCY volunteers for this post.  Inez Leutenegger wrote the text of the post, and Lucas Treleaven created the comic. Inez is a paralegal student and Lucas is in grade 11 at Monarch Park Secondary School.