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International Day of Pink

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Be yourself, the world will adjust.” – Manabi Bandyopadhyay

The International Day of Pink is an anti-oppression movement inspired by the actions of two Grade Twelve students in Nova Scotia named David Sheppard and Travis Price. The duo, who are now responsible for what has now become Pink Shirt Day, witnessed a new student, who happened to be gay, being bullied for wearing a pink polo shirt on their first day of school. Price and Sheppard took it upon themselves to purchase several women’s pink tank tops and other pink accessories and implored their fellow student body to don pink shirts at the end of the week. Most of the students in their school, approximately 80% of their student body, took a stand against bullying and wore pink shirts in support of their new classmate. Heavily inspired by Pink Shirt Day, and its themes of anti-bullying, the International Day of Pink is geared towards raising awareness regarding acts of violence towards the 2SLGBTQIAP+ community. This includes bullying and other forms of social discrimination. This day is meant to be a call to action for everyone to learn more about this vulnerable community and work towards building a future that highlights diversity and inclusion.

The International Day of Pink occurs each year on the second Wednesday of April. This day aligns with the original Pink Shirt Day theme, but also encourages participation by placing this day directly in the middle of the week, so folx have time to prepare.

We celebrate the International Day of Pink to raise awareness and work towards a more inclusive society. 2SLGBTQIAP+ individuals are some of the most vulnerable in our society. Due to their intersectionality, coming from several racial, cultural, or class backgrounds, these individuals experience a great deal of discrimination across many streams. This discrimination sees itself portrayed in bullying, hostility, hate crimes, and other forms of heteronormative violence found in social policy, including:

  • Legalization of Homosexuality (1969): Homosexuality was criminalized under the law in Canada until 1969. This meant you could be arrested and tried in court for your same-sex attraction. 
  • Inclusion of Sexual Orientation in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (1995): Sexual orientation was not included in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms until 1995. This means that even though homosexuality was no longer illegal, you were still not given the same rights and privileges under the law. People could be denied certain job, housing, or educational opportunities and there was no legal protection for them in these instances.
  • Legalization of Same-Sex Marriage in Alberta (2005): Same-sex marriage was not made legal in Alberta until 2005. This meant you were not eligible to marry your partner if you were in a same-sex relationship. It was incredibly difficult for people to visit their partners in the hospital because they were not identified as “family” in the eyes of hospital policy. The partners of those who were hospitalized and then passed away were often left out of will-hearings, establishing funeral arrangements, and being identified in obituaries. 
  • Inclusion of Trans People under the Candian Human Rights Commission (2013): It wasn’t until 2013 that a bill passed extending human rights to trans people. This meant that up until this bill was passed Trans people were not afforded the same human rights based on their gender expression, making it difficult to live a full life. 

As you can see, we have come a long way in regards to gender and sexual diversity, but we still have so much further to go. Education and awareness opportunities are needed to keep things moving in the right direction. The International Day of Pink recognizes this fight and urges young people not to take these rights for granted. Through public truth sharing comes empathy and building a foundation of understanding, which is where tolerance and respect thrive. By celebrating this day and working towards anti-oppression, we can recognize that 2SLGBTQIA+ rights are human rights and we need to work together to create equality for everyone.

Everyone can participate in the International Day of Pink! It is no surprise that it takes an entire community in order for tolerance to thrive, this includes those who identify within the 2SLGBTQIAP+ (Two-Spirit, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Queer, Intersex, Asexual, and Pansexual) community and those who do not. As they uphold heteronormative sociopolitical structures, allies play a huge role in the anti-oppression movement. Along with education and unlearning internal biases, becoming a true ally requires acceptance, awareness, and advocacy. 

You can celebrate the International Day of Pink everywhere: at home, in school, throughout your community, and beyond!

There are so many ways to celebrate the International Day of Pink. You can start by wearing a pink shirt to show your solidarity and encourage your friends to the same. Wearing a pink shirt is only the beginning, so you can continue this journey of learning by watching movies, reading books, and listening to podcasts that centre the 2SLGBTQIAP+ life experience, uncover history and promote advocacy. You can honour the International Day of Pink and its mission of anti-oppression by normalizing the use of pronouns and working towards eliminating gendered language in your vocabulary. 

You can support your 2SLGBTQIAP+ students by participating in any of the following:

  • Post Safe-Space Signs
  • Start an LGBTQ Organization At Your School
  • Stand Up Against Homophobia (including Queer and Transphobia)
  • Include LGBTQ topics into the curriculum
  • Pursue Professional Development

Another great way to honour the fight for diversity and inclusion is by living by the notion of, if you see something, say something. Anyone can, and should, actively speak up when witnessing acts of violence, bullying, and other forms of oppression in order to help create safer, more accountable spaces. You can also celebrate by participating in a couple of Trickster Theatre Event Day Activities that will work towards strengthening your student’s awareness and empathy, while advocating for meaningful change.

One size does not fit all

How you and your school decide to use the suggested activities, performances, and resources will depend completely on what you and your peers are comfortable with, and the time you have available to designate to the project(s). Trickster is also available to consult with if you would like extra help, resource connections, and/or coordination. You can go big, involving every class with different projects, performances and events throughout the school, or, you can go as small as just doing an activity listed in the materials for your own class which you believe will help them connect to the subject matter. 

Due to the circumstances of COVID19, not everything suggested will be possible, and many will need to be adjusted to suit your needs and comfort level. As we hope to carry this forward, and know that schools are looking to future projects much further down the road, we do want to plant the seeds for what those event days might look like too. There will be suggestions throughout on how you can modify activities for social distancing, but you are also able at any point to choose and modify activities and projects to achieve the level of safety your school is comfortable with.

Why Teachers Love It

Our residency was a unifying and motivating experience that we used as a way to begin our year long inquiry about children’s rights.

— Lisa McConnell, Teacher, North Haven School, Calgary

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