In an earlier Dean’s Assembly, I talked about bullying and consequences. I gave you a clear idea on the stance we have on bullying here and promoted that you all have the power to make positive decisions in and around how you treat each other. I would like to continue this theme today as this Friday we as a school are celebrating Pink Shirt Day.
Every single one of us contributes to making this school safe. Everyone has the power to ask for help, the power to change behaviour and the power to intervene. What every single one of you do makes a difference, so the idea is that we all take action: we all wear pink on Friday and start a conversation about bullying so everyone knows ‘it’s not OK’.
Pink Shirt Day is about celebrating diversity and promoting positive social relationships. It is happening throughout New Zealand and in lots of other places across the globe. Pink Shirt Day is about creating a New Zealand where all people feel safe, valued and respected.
This is the second time Newlands College is supporting pink shirt day. The day began in Canada, in 2007, when a group of students stood up to defend a kid who was bullied because he was wearing a pink shirt. The students took a stand by all wearing pink shirts to show solidarity, and handed out pink shirts to their classmates in order to spread the message.
So why Pink?
This is Sam. He is a five-year-old American boy who chose to wear pink shoes to school one day. His mother posted this photo to her Facebook timeline but never could have anticipated the reaction from her own family and friends.
An onslaught of negative responses forced her to remove it. Family members commented on how “wrong” it was and how “things like this will affect him socially”. The harshest of which came from the boy’s aunt, who wrote “wearing that will turn him gay.”
Her mother had explained to Sam before he left for school that day that the shoes were really intended to be worn by girls. But he was untroubled by this fact. The response from his school was nothing but positive. In fact the school said, “Sam got several compliments on his new shoes. Not one kid said anything negative toward him about it.”
Sam has since told his mother that he didn’t like the shoes because they were pink but because they were “made out of zebra” and “zebra is his favourite animal”. This shows us that a colour is simply a colour in the eyes of Sam. Perhaps adults need to be more mindful of what meaning they attach to such things and what messages are projected onto children.
What does it say about society when a group of adults could stand to take a lesson in humanity and acceptance from a class of 5 year olds? It seems the class have something they can teach us all about accepting diversity, being who you are and not being ruled by what people think.
Think about the toys you used to have, or still have. If you are one of the girls, in general, did you own a whole lot of pink toys? If you are one of the boys, in general, did you own a whole lot of blue toys?
A French supermarket Super-U has taken on this toy apartheid. They have printed a holiday season catalogue showing boys cradling dolls and girls piloting remote-controlled cars. They say this is about keeping up with changes in society, with the shifting roles of men and women. It’s about breaking down stereotypes.
Have a listen to this little girl complaining about the different lines of toys. She’s pretty upset about how boys have to buy super heroes and the girls have to buy princesses.
You might also be surprised to hear that not only is this gender difference based on colour a bit silly according to that little girl, historically the colours had completely different roles and words had completely different meanings.
In this episode from the TV show QI there are a lot of surprising facts about pink and girls. Watch from 2 minutes in for the most relevant section.
It seems if you chose to make gender stereotypical statements or tease someone about wearing pink that even history isn’t on your side.
We live in a very diverse world today and what is fantastic about it is that we are accepting and tolerant of difference. I am very proud that I teach at a school that is so accepting of diversity and lets people be who they are. I am very proud to be the Dean of a Year Group who is so accepting of diversity and lets people be who they are.
Think about what you can do to show your commitment to making this a safe school. I hope for a lot of you this will mean wearing pink on Friday. You can wear a pink shirt, or any other pink item along with the rest of your uniform. Stand up and show that bullying is not OK.