Ontario Federation of Labour

Ontario Federation of Labour

April 10, 2012 18:54 ET

Workers Trade in Blue and White Collars for Pink Shirts to Challenge Bullying

OFL Statement on the Day of Pink, April 11, 2012

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - April 10, 2012) - On April 11, workers around the province will be trading in the blue and white collars for pink shirts to challenge homophobia, transphobia and other forms of bullying. Celebrated each year on the second Wednesday of April, the International Day of Pink is marked by millions of people who wear pink shirts to demonstrate that positive actions can make a difference.

"Hate has no place in our schools or in our workplaces. Homophobic and transphobic bullying tears communities apart and is a leading cause of teen suicide," said OFL President Sid Ryan. "The only way to challenge hate and discrimination is through positive, collective action. LGBTQ people need to feel empowered by a display of community support that surrounds them."

The "Day of Pink" or "Pink Shirt Day" was started by two Nova Scotian high school students in 2007 who called on their classmates to wear pink shirts to school to show solidarity with a male student who was the target of homophobic bullying. By creating a "sea of pink" in their school, these students helped to trigger an international movement to challenge homophobic and transphobic bullying in schools. Since then, the Day of Pink has continued to spread to schools and workplaces around the world and has drawn attention to the tragic impact of bullying and related teen suicides.

In Canada, three-quarters of LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning) students and 61 percent of students with LGBTQ parents report that they feel unsafe at school, according to a 2009 national school survey by Egale Canada. Transgender students are especially likely to see their school as unsafe (87 percent) and 74 percent of trans students reported having been verbally harassed about their gender expression. The pervasiveness of this hate-motivated bullying is due, in large part, to the fact that homophobia and transphobia are often ignored and not categorized as bullying.

"We cannot stop bullying, harassment, hate or violence unless we confront the discriminatory attitudes that give rise to hateful behaviours," said OFL Secretary- Treasurer Nancy Hutchison. "Each of us must acknowledge our responsibility to take action to defend the rights of all people, regardless of race, gender, age, abilities, sexual orientation, or identity."

During the Day of Pink, teachers and education workers across Ontario will engage with students and colleagues on ways to end homophobia and transphobia. Workers in many other sectors will also participate by wearing pink shirts and organizing events to celebrate diversity and challenge bullying.

"Every worker should wear a pink shirt on April 11, 2012 and take action in their workplace and communities. Together, we can put a stop to homophobic and transphobic bullying and all forms of prejudice and discrimination," said Hutchison.

The Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL) represents 54 unions and one million workers in Ontario and is Canada's largest provincial labour body. Learn more about the Day of Pink, visit: http://www.dayofpink.org/.

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