Wednesday, 8 April 2015

International Day of Pink: Stepping Beyond the Door of Dismissal

Happy International Day of Pink!

(For those of you that saw my last blog post, don't worry as this time I got the colour right.)

TDSB Pink Logo. Taken from

Schools encouraging their students to wear pink. The TDSB (Toronto District School Board) logo going pink on its website today. At the same time it is upsetting that the need to bring everyone together in a pink shirt still remains. In other words, bullying continues. It's not only the kid that pushes another on the playground. It's not only the kid being laughed at for their height, whether it be tall or short or somewhere in between. It's not only stories like Jeremy Dias's and the stream of insults and push against ignorance he received for being gay. It's in some workplaces. It's in some societies with parental pressure and relatives' ideologies.

Why isn't it stopping? Before I answer it, I want to turn your attention to two myths on bullying.

Myth one: Bullies grow out of it.
Fact: Those predicting that age is inversely proportional to one's kindness level calculated with the wrong formula. According to a 2007 survey, 37% were bullied in the workplace. In fact, "workplace bullying causes $3 billion in lost productivity and a staggering $19 billion loss in employment every year." A few months ago I was at a scholarship reception and person serving us told me of a person she knew who had to switch her job because she was bullied. Meanwhile a second study showed that childhood bullies were likely to become criminals. I myself have been bullied of those across multiple age groups - from those whose also born in 1996 to ex-aunts, ex-uncles and a former history teacher. To them, was bullying simply a phase of childhood? I think not.

Myth two: Bullying strengthens its victims.
Also proven false. Those having been bullied are likelier to have health difficulties. Those bullied in the workplace have "stress-related-problems." We also cannot discount those that have committed suicide from bullying, those that never had a chance to 'get over it.' I myself still have shudders from my tenth-grade History teacher forcing me to endure violent movies, the right to promote Autistic dignity unlearned.

I have noticed that one of the biggest factors in bullying is ignorance. Yes, we've heard "Don't be a bystander. Speak up." When bullied in elementary school, I told teachers and yet the situation worsened until I begun high school in another area. (A similar situation happened for a friend who left earlier to Oshawa.) Just turn to Google News and you'll find recounts of parents that told authorities who claimed they could not stop the situation. What about the 62% of employers that are told about workplace bullying but do not act on it?

Yes. It is easy to live without doing the difficult. It is easy to live attempting to believe that structures are working well, that the person reporting workplace harassment is overacting or that kids will grow out of what they are doing. Yet we cannot end bullying without acknowledging it. We cannot end bullying without confronting it, without taking the extra few stories up a CN Tower-analagous staircase, without exerting our courage against a fear of put-downs, of 'getting involved,' a fear analagous to the pull of gravity. Yet take a look at the world. We've come several stories up the staircase with anti-bullying initiatives and bullying sometimes in the spotlight on Google News. I already suspect my twitter feed will overcrowd from #DayofPink. I see many leaders and ordinary persons alike with the ability to implement and improve bullying prevention training in workplaces or stand up to the next person uttering a slur. Sticking to my CN Tower analogy, we all have the potential to reach the tip of the tower in communicating for a discrimination- and harrassment-free tomorrow. The stop starts with us.

- FA
Holding a CCGSD Day of Pink button in my pen-ink-stained hand.

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