Challenges faced by homosexuals & bisexuals
An approach to school bullying:
organize a 'sea of pink'
A Grade 9 male student at Central Kings Rural High School in Nova Scotia on
Canada's East coast wore a pink polo shirt on the first day of school,
2007-SEP-05. Six to ten bullies, apparently wishing to display their intolerance
of homosexuals and emphasize their heterosexuality, bullied the student. They
called him a homosexual because he wore pink; they threatened to beat him up.
Two senior (Grade 12)
students, David Shepherd (left) and Travis Price (right) -- heard of the
incident and decided to take action. Shepherd said: "I just figured enough was
enough." They E-mailed fellow classmates to drum up support. They went to a discount store and purchased fifty pink shirts,
t-shirts, tank tops, etc. for male students. They handed them them out in the
school lobby on SEP-14. They also brought a pink basketball
and material for pink headbands and arm bands. They ran short pf clothing and
went back to the store that morning. The employees opened early so that they
could search for more pink clothing.
Broadcasting Corporation noted: "... a tsunami of support poured in" Dozens of students wore the shirts that Shepherd and Price had
distributed. However, more than 350 students arrived wearing their own pink
clothes -- some head to toe. About half of the school's 830 students wore pink,
including one of the bullies!
Some of the classmates of the bullied student's classmates, who remains
anonymous, described his arrival at school as a powerful moment. David Shepherd
"Definitely it looked like there was a big weight lifted off his
shoulders. He went from looking right depressed to being as happy as can be.
... If you can get more people against them ... to show that we're not going
to put up with it and support each other, then they're not as big as a group
as they think are."
Travis Price said:
"It's been totally overwhelming for us. I mean we're just two local boys
and I mean we're getting calls from like Alaska and e-mails. It's just
phenomenal the support that we've gotten from across the globe."
He also said:
"The bullies got angry. One guy was
throwing chairs (in the cafeteria). We’re glad we got the response we
Stephen Pearl, the school principal said:
"You're always hearing about the youth of the world and how bad things
are. Well, they're not that bad."
Meanwhile, the bullies have not been heard from.
Reaction outside of the high school:
The students' "sea of pink" campaign was first published on
2007-SEP-20. It did not go unnoticed outside the province:
||U.S. talk show host Ellen DeGeneres expressed interest in their story.
||Other schools are talking about organizing their own "pink day."
||CBS interviewed the two students on SEP-21.
||The largest newspaper in Spain is reporting the story.
||Travis said: "I’ve talked more in
the past couple of days than I have in my whole life." By the morning of
SEP-21, they had been deluged with 30 E-mails from the U.S., Bermuda,
Norway, and Switzerland.
||They appreciate the recognition. However, David Shepherd said:
"We don’t want to move the focus from the situation onto us. People
say, 'You’re celebrities, you’ll go down in the history books of the
school,' but that’s not what we set out to do."
Travis price added:
"People say you’re famous, heroes or celebrities. We’re not, we’re
just two kids who stood up for a cause."
||By SEP-22, they have been interviewed by two local TV stations, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, and a Montreal talk-radio station. Their
Member of Parliament, Scot Brison, contacted them via Facebook. Nova Scotia
Premier Rodney MacDonald faxed a letter to their school.
||Travis and David are writing a proposal to the regional school board to
teach about bullying and the pain it can cause in elementary school.
||On SEP-21, several Nova Scotia schools, including Sir John A. Macdonald
High in Upper Tantallon, and North Nova Education Centre, in New Glasgow
held their own "wear pink" day. Some students who didn't wear pink had their faces
||The CBC News has a group of photographs titled "A sea of pink for
tolerance" on their web site. 4
||Rodney MacDonald -- no relation to Ronald MacDonald -- who is the premier of Nova Scotia, wore a pink necktie on 2007-SEP-26 as he declared the second Thursday
after the start of each school year as "Stand Up Against Bullying Day." That's one province taking action, with 9 provinces, 50 states, the District of Columbia, and 3 territories to go in North
||Posted at http://www.NovaNewsNow.com
I graduated from CK in 2003. I am currently in the Bachelor of
Education Program at Trent University. I was speaking with my mother
this evening, and she told me about what was going on at CK [Central
Kings] these days. She told me about this article. I used to be
bullied when I was in junior high, and never had I experienced the
compassion and drive of the students at CK today. I was always proud
to be an alumnus of CK, but never until this day was I ever so proud
to call myself a Gator! Kudos to you students/staff of Central Kings
Rural High - Bullying needs to end, and it takes people like YOU to
put it to an end. Simply put: I am so glad to be entering the world
as an educator with people like you out there!! So very proud -
"I am very happy that this story is receiving provincial and
hopefully national attention. This bullying problem has been handled in
a great way and I hope the message gets out to other present and future
bullies. School bullying is everyone’s business and these students
have really stepped up!
I have never been prouder to say,"I'm a Nova Scotianer". Well Central
Kings... way to stay up and fight back!!! We can all make a difference
and make bullying a thing of the past. You've got my attention all the
way in Ontario and I'll be passing this story around. My child is
bullied and it's tough to get the teachers and principal to take notice
with all the other issues in school. It's not a wonder, but someone has
to do something. Parents can't be at school all day long (lol).
||Posted at http://www.Gay.com :
||"Gene P" posted at Gay.com:
"Being colour blind makes the shirt colour moot as far as I'm
concerned. Although, what does concern me is that those bullies
could very likely return to the school with guns. It seems that the
student body is far brighter than the faculty at that school since
the constables were not called for the chair throwing incident."
||"Anlagu" also posted at Gay.com:
"I think as punishment, the 2 bullies should have to go and work
for free being janitors for 1 or 2 local gay bars for 1 month
wearing pink shirts, shorts and shoes. Just a thought!!"
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
"Bullied student tickled pink by schoolmates' T-shirt campaign,"
CBC News, 2007-SEP-19, at: http://www.cbc.ca/
Ian Fariclough, "Pink shirts legend grows," Chronicle Herald,
Halifax NS, undated, at: http://www.thechronicleherald.ca/
Ian Fariclough, " 'I've
stood around too long.' Central Kings students wear pink to send bullies
a message," Chronicle Herald, Halifax NS, undated, at: http://www.thechronicleherald.ca/
"A sea of pink for tolerance," CBC News Online, at: http://www.cbc.ca/
"Safe to Learn" website:
By coincidence, a new anti-bullying web-based resource for
schools was launched on 2007-SEP-23, just as news about the Nova Scotia pink
program was being covered in the media. The web site is at: http://www.teachernet.gov.uk/. It is written for UK schools. However, its
material is well organized and appears to be directly applicable to North
American schools. Homophobic bullies in the U.S. and Canada do not differ much
from those in the UK.
Copyright © 2007 by Ontario Consultants on
Originally written: 2007-SEP-23
Latest update: 2007-SEP-23
Author: B.A. Robinson