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Today is The International Day of Pink, on this day many of us are going about our daily activities wearing pink to highlight bullying, homophobia and transphobia within our communities. There are thousands of people across Canada, probably millions of individuals around the world, who are victims of these attacks everyday. Sometimes it is obvious things like getting shoved or being threatened, other times it can be as subtle as being the only person at school not invited to a party.

To someone who has never been a victim of these attacks they can sound minor or like unrelated incidents, I even heard someone once call it “character building” which I think must be one of the most insensitive things you can possibly say to a victim. These attacks can leave us both psychologically and physically scarred and for many people the consequences can be devastating. Some of you may be aware of the “It Gets Better” campaign which supports young people who are being bullied because they are gay or their peers suspect that they are gay. During early 2010 there was pandemic of teens in the states dying by suicide due to bullying about their sexuality. In the media storm that surrounded these events the “It Gets Better” campaign sprang up to support youth currently being targeted and trying to help them hold onto the hope that once they finish school and were able to move to new communities they would be free from attacks.

Giving people places to turn to when they are victimized is essential but I also think everyone has a responsibility in regards to bullying. The International Day of Pink was started in a school in Nova Scotia when 2 straight students saw a gay student being bullied because they were wearing pink. The two witnesses made the brave move to intervene and stopped the bullying from continuing. A few days later they convinced everyone in the school to come in wearing pink in a show of solidarity against bullying within their community. What these students did was brave and an example that we should all be trying to follow. Quite apart from it being the right thing to do research shows that it works, in most cases when someone intervenes the bullying will end within 10 seconds. It can be scary because you don’t want to become the next victim and when you see everyone else walking past like it’s nothing you can feel the social pressure to do the same thing.

Today on twitter people are using the hashtag #bravepledge to talk about what they plan to do in response to bullying. As amazing and wonderful as this day is at highlighting bullying, it is on us to uphold our brave pledges after the day is over. If you have not already taken a look at the twitter conversation today I would suggest heading over there and maybe making your own pledge. Either way I hope today inspires you to pay attention to the actions of people in your community and take a stand against bullying and intimidation wherever you see it.

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