by Kevin Hague
You know you have one. Time to get it out. Russel Norman says I have to iron mine. April 14th is Pink Shirt Day, a day when everyone around the country is encouraged to make a visual display of our abhorrence of bullying – the process by which people are marginalised and victimised, often with lifelong negative results.
I posted on it last year, when only I (and possibly Jonathan Coleman; it was hard to tell) did the pink shirt thing in Parliament. What has amazed me is the astonishing buzz that has taken hold this year.
Amongst the many blog posts I was particularly struck by Philip Patston’s comments. In particular I thought he makes an important point that we need to focus on the behaviour of bullying, rather than labelling people as ‘bullies’ or ‘bullying victims’.
Pink Shirt Day is about standing up against all bullying, and rightly so, but I know people will understand that my strongest concern is with bullying of young Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transexual and Intersex people. I know all too well how the experience of being discriminated against or subjected to belittling or violent behaviour leads to the psychosocial risk factors that underpin many negative health and other social outcomes.
The LGBTI youth groups have a campaign this year in association with Pink Shirt Day to get people to write letters to John Key, calling for effective action against bullying behaviour. That’s a campaign everyone can be involved in, of course, and will have broad benefits. Here’s a short video clip from Blake Skellerup, New Zealand’s speed skating Olympian, promoting the idea. Blake’s positive message is strongly in synch with the “It Gets Better” campaign that I was proud to take part in this year. Please write a letter yourself.
Finally I wanted to share with you a fantastic Irish campaign. It’s targeted at homophobic bullying, but its core message is actually for all of us.
There are some great initiatives to counter homophobia, like the Gay and Straight alliances that started out in the early 1990s and now exist in many schools, most recently in Nelson Boys’ College, (we think) the first boys school to have such a group. Congratulations guys!