Danforth Collegiate delivers protest in pink

Grade 10 student Aditi Fowzia doesn’t understand the big deal about boys wearing pink.  “I (support) all those people who’ve been bullied,” she said.

Danforth Collegiate Technical Institute staff Eurydice Dixon, Carole Atkins and Lubi Urban wear pink shirts in support of their school’s first Pink Day event. Carole Atkins, an educational assistant at the school, helped plan the event.
Danforth Collegiate Technical Institute staff Eurydice Dixon, Carole Atkins and Lubi Urban wear pink shirts in support of their school’s first Pink Day event. Carole Atkins, an educational assistant at the school, helped plan the event. (Photo by Meri Perra)

Twice she’s seen boys being bullied for wearing the colour. Once, she said, a boy went home to change
because he’d been bullied at school.

That’s why when Margot Huycke, a teacher at Danforth Collegiate Technical Institute, spoke to Aditi’s ESL class about Pink Day, Aditi decided she would help out.

Pink Day stems from an impromptu action at a Nova Scotia high school two years ago. In 2007, a Grade 9 boy was bullied for wearing a pink shirt to school. Two Grade 12 boys decided to take action, and the next day brought dozens of pink shirts for students to wear in support of the bullied boy.

Their actions got the attention of Nova Scotia premier Rodney MacDonald, and talk show host Ellen Degeneres.
An international day of action was born. This year, Pink Day events took place throughout Asia,
Europe, Australia and North America.

Huycke brought Pink Day to Danforth Collegiate. She says she is learning about bullying. She has her own file full of resources and has done extra professional development on the subject. She says her school has a zero tolerance policy for bullying, but teachers have to train themselves about ways to intervene.

Five years ago, Huckye formed the school’s group Students Against Sexual Stereotyping (SASS). Now she says she is motivated to challenge bullying along with homophobia.

“I have so many young kids (as Grade 9 students),” Huycke said. “I think it’s so important for their first year to be a good one. They’re just kids. I just want to look out for them.”

Grade 12 student Ashley Kellestine decided to join SASS to contribute. She says that she can feel helpless when she witnesses bullying.

“I have a friend here who gets picked on sometimes (for being perceived as gay) and it’s not a very good feeling,” Kellestine said.

Meanwhile, Aditi tells her classmates it shouldn’t matter if a boy wears pink.  “It’s a colour like black or white,” Aditi said.