International Day of Pink – Workplace Tips
What is the International Day of Pink?
It started in a Nova Scotia high school in 2007 when two students, David Shepherd and Travis Price, witnessed a young gay student being bullied for wearing a pink shirt. The two boys intervened, but wanted to do more stop to homophobic and transphobic bullying in their school community.
In the space of a few days they rallied enough support from their school to persuade everyone to come to school wearing pink in order to show solidarity with the bullied student. The result was the first ever Day of Pink, which was the precursor to many others where students wore pink attire to school to show solidarity with their bullied classmates and stand up to bullying. Inspired by the initiative, Jer’s Vision founder and 2014 Harmony Award Winner Jeremy Diaz created the International Day of Pink in an effort to support students internationally with resources and tools for making their schools more inclusive.
The campaign has now grown into an international movement inspiring schools and organizations to come together on the second Wednesday of April to speak out against bullying and show support for those who are bullied because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. This April 12th is an opportunity to take a stand against homophobia, transphobia, and transmisogyny in our workplace.
Here’s how you can get involved:
- Visit the Day of Pink website to find out how you can get involved as an individual, school or organization.
- Download Day of Pink posters and resources, and post them in common spaces to raise awareness and start a conversation.
- Incorporate discussions about the Day of Pink and its meaning with colleagues, visitors and community members. Ask: “How do we practice inclusion of LGBTQ people? What are some gaps we need to address?”
Beyond the Pink: Promoting LGBTQ+ Inclusion
It’s important to remember that the pink shirt is just a symbolic gesture. To be meaningful, the gesture must be accompanied by a true commitment to equity and inclusion expressed through actions all year round. One of the misconceptions about bullying is that it is something that only affects young people and schools. But according to the Workplace Bullying Institute, over a third of Canadian workers report having been bullied, with almost half of those targeted by bullying experiencing stress-related health problems. Homophobic and transphobic bullying is not only damaging to the workers’ morale, health, and wellbeing, it is also costly for the employers.
Here are some steps you can take to support gender and sexual diversity and promote an LGBTQ-positive workplace environment:
Supporting yourself through education
Some of us have experienced homophobia or transphobia in our lifetime. Some of us have not. Some have experienced other forms of discrimination based on our different intersecting identities. Regardless of where we locate ourselves on the spectrum of sexual and gender diversity, it is vital that we listen to the voices and perspectives of those directly affected by homophobic and transphobic bullying, because every individual story and experience will be different our response must take this into account. That said, each homophobic and transphobic incident as part of a larger oppressive system that recognizes only two genders and sees heterosexuality as the only acceptable norm; framing it that way can help take the blame and shame away from the victim and emphasize our collective responsibility for promoting equity and human rights for all. We can begin by asking ourselves: “What do I need to be an effective ally?” Supporting ourselves through education and resources can help us put bullying in the right context and be more effective, informed and resilient allies to LGBTQ people.
Supporting others through action
Pink shirts don’t stop homophobic and transphobic bullying – people do. The most important thing anyone can do is not being a bystander. Becoming more attuned to what’s going on in our environment and not ignoring or minimizing offensive language (like “That’s gay”) can send a strong message that discriminatory language will not be tolerated. This sets boundaries as well as expectations regarding acceptable behavior in the workplace and in spaces shared by community members. When it is not safe to intervene by yourself, call for support and involve others. Be sure to know your workplace code of conduct, human rights policy, and the process for conflict management and the right person or department to contact for information and support.
Supporting your organization through resources
The Day of Pink website has a great selection of resources, posters and awareness-raising materials. But it is good to be aware of other organizations and resources that can support your workplace Diversity and Inclusion work with respect to LGBTQ communities. Making a list of resources available and accessible to employees, service users and community members can help promote a safer and more inclusive community. We recommend this list created by the LGBT Youthline.
Transmisogyny is the expression of hate and violence toward femininity and ‘female’ markers in trans women and male-assigned people. It results from the cultural belief that masculinity is inherently superior to femininity.