Saturday, October 24, 2009

Pink Bull-Shirt Day

I would like to mention that this blog was inspired by a well-written rant-turned-essay by a very good friend of mine, who I'll call L. Thanks L, I hope this measures up to yours.

Once upon a time(September 2007) in a far away place(Nova Scotia) there was a ninth-grade boy who wore a pink shirt to the first day of school. Most everyone in the school couldn't care less about what he wore on his own person but two other boys decided to go up to him, call him gay and threaten to beat him up. A truly lousy start to high school if I've ever heard one.

But two kind souls by the name of Travis Price and David Shepard heard this decided that they couldn't just sit by and do nothing. So they marched down to the store and picked up 50 pink shirts to pass out at school the next day, they also emailed hundreds of students to participate. The result? A sea of of hundreds of pink shirts meeting the eyes of the boy and the two bullies the next day. The ninth-grader was overjoyed and the bullies never came near him again.

Now before I go on, I would like to express how UTTERLY AWESOME I think this is and I would be if I was ever to meet these two boys or someone like them. I believe they got some sort of award for their efforts, they better have. Talk about fighting for what's right.

But moving on, this wonderful event has caused many many schools across Canada and the States to adopt a yearly "Pink Shirt Day" where students wear pink shirts and usually get a group yearbook photo taken.

Nice concept, but something about this rubs me the wrong way.

Probably because that wearing pink shirts is ALL they're doing. I haven't heard of any exceptions to this(there probably are and if so, I apologize). And if students individually chose to wear pink shirts on a specific day to commemorate the wonderful thing those boys did, or if the school held seminars or a huge assembly to watch a documentary about Columbine or any other bullying-caused school shooting then I would be totally behind this.

But when the school just goes "Yeah let's all wear pink shirts to fight bullying! WHOO! SCHOOL SPIRIT!" it becomes a huge joke: "LOOK AT ME, I'M LIKE, WEARING A PINK SHIRT AND I'M A GUY LOLOLOLOLOL!!!"

Or in the very least, similar to wearing a political button because you thought the button was cute.

And I'm sure a lot of kids wearing the shirts are doing it in support of the anti-bullying campaign but it just isn't actually DOING anything.

Allow me to make an extended metaphor: When I was in eighth grade, my teacher was picking on me and being mean to me for no reason whatsoever (She also did lots of other things like verbally sexually harass a male student and make us have silent reading for two hours while she went on Facebook on a school computer, but that's another tale for another day) so my mother and I did what we were supposed to and called the school to discuss what to do about the issue. Their solution was to send me to the guidance counsellor every day for an hour or so and they apparently reprimanded my teacher.

We talked a lot.

The teacher continued to make me miserable for the rest of the school year.

The closest thing to a solution that was ever offered was "Try to look at her in a different light" (I'll write a poem about that, and I'll call it "Different Ways of Looking At Being Humiliated in Front of My Class").After a month I said "To heck with this" and stopped going to the counselling sessions.

So really all it was was a whole lot of talking and not a lick of doing.

And that's what "Pink Shirt Day" is now, a whole lot of students prancing around in pink and not doing a bloody thing. Not even talking about it.

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