In September 2007, a Grade 9 boy wore a pink shirt for his first day of school at Central Kings Rural High School in Cambridge, Nova Scotia. He was bullied relentlessly because he wore pink. Students tauntingly called him a homosexual and made threats to beat him up. Two grade 12 students, Travis Price and David Sheppard, witnessed this harassment. Wanting to take a stand against bullying in their school and promote change, the two boys went home and brainstormed ideas to stop the bullying. They thought that if they wore pink shirts too and encouraged other students to do the same, the bullies would be outnumbered. Then, they bought over 50 pink shirts and tank tops that students could wear the next day. Finally, they sent out an email to their friends and classmates in order to spread the word.
Guess what the end result was? Travis and David got 850 students out of the 1,000 students in their school to participate in the first-ever Pink Shirt Day! This movement soon is being spread- out nationwide and gave students around the world a chance to speak out against bullying or be honest about their own personal experiences with bullying. Over time, the Pink Shirt Day initiative has helped people to become more comfortable with stepping forward if they were being bullied, if they were a witness to bullying, or even if they themselves were the one who bullied. Currently, many mental health services are available for people who need help coping with bullying or changing bullying behaviour.
Now you may be wondering, what can you do to help promote Pink Shirt Day? Well, if you’re thinking beyond the contribution of wearing a pink shirt, Travis Price and David Sheppard run a campaign with Shaw and Coast Capital that will donate $1 to the anti-bullying cause if you simply post a picture on Wednesday, February 24th, with the hashtag #pinkshirtpromise.
In the end, it’s important to remember that Pink Shirt Day is not only a day it’s an attitude. We can wear pink on Pink Day to show our support, but it’s our actions that matter. We need to be respectful to one another and take steps towards positive change. Though it may be harder than it seems to ask for help when we need it or to break old habits, the least we can do is to try. And if we succeed, we will have truly reached the goal of Pink Shirt Day.
Written by Caitlin Astrom DeWitt