What is Pink Shirt Day?
In September of 2007 two high school students in Nova Scotia witnessed a grade nine student being bullied for wearing a pink shirt. The child was ridiculed and called gay for his choice of t-shirt colour. David Shepard and Travis Price saw these actions as unfair and decided to organize a sympathy protest for the grade nine student. That night they traveled to a local discount store and purchased 50 pink shirts, they then messaged their classmates encouraging them to wear pink and that they had shirts to distribute. What happened the next morning at school was overwhelming. While many students donned the pink shirts provided by Shepard and Price other students wore their own pink clothing in support of the cause. When the student who was bullied entered the front hall that morning his face spoke volumes. Shepard later stated, “it looked like a huge weight was lifted off his shoulders.”
The event has grown volumes since that day in 2007 and over 160,000 people committed to wearing pink shirts last year through Facebook.
Many people believe, likely because they experienced it themselves, that bullying is a “rite of passage” for kids—required in order to deal with the tough realities of life. At Boys and Girls Clubs, we know that victims of bullying, witnesses of bullying and bullies themselves all experience the very real and long term negative impacts of bullying regardless of its forms—physical, verbal, written or on-line (cyber-bullying). We also know that there are constructive and supportive ways to develop skills to prevent bullying and to thrive. And, we know that by developing those skills in a supportive environment, the emotional and psychological scars from bullying that haunt and shape people’s futures can be avoided.
Boys and Girls Clubs programs foster self-esteem, social engagement, academic success, inclusion, acceptance, respect for self and others, and connection to community—all of which are key elements of bullying prevention. Boys and Girls Clubs proudly participate in Pink Shirt Day because it promotes awareness, understanding and openness about the problem and a shared commitment to a solution.