This article was published on February 23rd, 2015
David Shepherd and Travis Price of Nova Scotia organized the first Pink Shirt Day event in 2007 in response to a student who was bullied for wearing a pink shirt named Charles McNeill. It has now become widely recognized as anti-bullying day.
It is irrelevant whether someone is gay or not when the source of the bullying is based on a reaction to non-conforming gender identities or practices. The underlying attacks are fueled by homophobia. The colour pink is counter culture to our social reinforcement that blue is for boys and pink is for girls. You don’t have to go very far to see how ubiquitous this cultural assumption is still alive and well.
Where has the “gay” in anti-bullying gone? Most States and Provinces have no mandated education on homophobia and LGBT+ issues. Many school districts continue to resist Gay-Straight alliances (GSA). If there is such a movement afoot against bullying then where are the actual changes to the lives of LGBT+ kids who wear a disproportionate brunt of the school bully.
Parents openly speak of their LGBT+ children being humiliated by school officials. A recent presentation in Vancouver, British Columbia, a 14-year-old trans child from the BC interior who identified as male was bullied while using the male washroom. He was suspended for using the wrong washroom and the bullies received no reprimand. This is one of many indecencies.
If Pink Shirt Day is about anti-bullying then it should be a day for changes that include anti-homophobia as the rally cry. All LGBT+ kids should be safe and be free of bullying.