BC teachers across the province are proud to support the Day of Pink and take a stand against homophobic and gender-based bullying in our schools and communities, BCTF President Irene Lanzinger said today.
“Bullying is something we cannot tolerate in our society or public education system,” said Lanzinger. “Teachers are proud of the work we do in classrooms every day to provide a safe and caring learning environment. However, bullying continues to be a problem within our schools. Entire school communities—teachers, students, staff, and parents—need to work together all year round to put an end to bullying.”
The annual “the Day of Pink” goes back to 2007 when two Nova Scotia students turned the tide against the bullies who picked on a fellow student who was targeted by his peers with homophobic slurs for wearing pink. They purchased a large number of pink t-shirts from a local dollar store and, following a night on the Internet gathering the support of fellow classmates, they distributed the shirts and tank tops the following day at the start of school. Last year, 5.5 million Canadian students participated in the Day of Pink. The BCTF is working closely with Jer’s Vision to promote action on this day across the country. For information, go to www.dayofpink.org.
“The Day of Pink has become an important annual event for BC schools,” said Lanzinger. “It is particularly impactful because it helps tackle a specific kind of bullying that is based in homophobia and gender stereotypes. The BCTF has worked for many years to support and develop campaigns and materials that help schools address homophobia and transphobia in schools. LGBTQ students are some of the most vulnerable to bullying and harassment. Collectively, we need to do more to protect and support those students.”
For years, the BCTF has lobbied school districts to adopt specific LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual, and queer) policies that:
- provide support for teachers to do antihomophobia education at all grade levels.
- encourage opportunities for LGBTQ workshops for professional development.
- endorse the existence of Gay Straight Alliance (GSA) clubs in schools.
- integrate LGBTQ issues into existing curriculum.
- protect all students and staff from harassment based upon their real or perceived sexual orientation.
Lanzinger said that only eight out of sixty school districts, including Vancouver, Victoria, Fort Nelson, and Southeast Kootenay, have developed specific LGTBQ policies.