What does bullying look like to you? Bullying can be characterized as intentional aggression and dominance over an individual. It can occur in any setting, to people of any background and age. Bullying can come in various forms, ranging from verbal, cyber, to physical. As with everything, bullying comes with consequences. In many cases, it can lower the victim’s self-esteem, leading to PTSD, anxiety, depression, and ultimately even suicide. The issue of bullying has become widespread, without enough efforts to resolve this crisis.
In 2007 in Nova Scotia, Charles Mcneil was bullied for wearing a pink shirt on the first day of school. Two students, David Shepherd and Travis Price, saw what was happening. Instead of being bystanders, they created a protest by distributing pink shirts for other students to wear in the school. As a result, Pink Shirt Day was created, commemorating the day that the two teenagers stood up, and to promote anti-bullying on a global level.
“Buying the shirt doesn’t mean as much as knowing the meaning behind it. It stands to support the movement of being individualistic and not pressured. When you're bullied in high school, it shows you many ways to deal with them, for example protesting with others, because of the strength in numbers.” - Cameron Chan, Grade 11
Pink Shirt Day is a step towards anti-discrimination and anti-bullying. After taking a stand against the bullies by making a statement with pink shirts, Travis Price and David Shepherd discovered how this initiative could help make a difference in Charles McNeill’s life as well as the lives of many others.
“Pink Shirt Day, to me, symbolizes that everyone should be able to be who they are without being worried about being judged or having others commenting,” says Ms. Liew, a sponsor teacher for Windermere’s Gender-Sexuality Alliance (GSA).
Today, Pink Shirt Day has expanded into a global movement with the mission to “raise awareness for these issues as well as raise funds to support programs that foster children’s healthy self-esteem” (CKNW Pink Shirt Day). Each year, more and more people are joining in to stand up for who they are and it is evident that Pink Shirt Day has played an important part in stepping in that direction.
“Every instance where they hear something homophobic, students should stand up and say something about the wrongdoing.” - Mr. Mazo
Bullying can happen to anyone and everyone - it holds no prisoners. However, bullies tend to target those who stray away from social norms, for an instance the LGBTQ+ community. Pink Shirt Day also spreads a message revolving around acceptance and self-expression.
“The GSA represents the LGBTQ+ community where it helps those who may be uncomfortable expressing who they are. Pink Shirt Day and GSA support the same thing: Encouraging that people can be whoever they want,” says Nathalie Giang, a student in Grade 11. “In the long term, I want it to be for everyone to feel accepted. My goal is for there to be no need for a Pink Shirt Day, because everyone will be treated equally.”
Pink Shirt Day has been shown to bring the community together through protesting against anti-bullying, and by embracing one another’s individuality. Throughout this day, we hope that everyone will become more mindful of their actions and to encourage kindness within each other. As the saying goes, “Kindness is the greatest gift you can bestow upon one another” (Katharine Hepburn).
“Wear a pink shirt to accept everyone as a member of the human race.” - Mr. Hamlen
Thanks to Clara Sun, Janette Chen, and Ivy Ly for conducting the interviews!
Photo Credits: Ricky Lai