Alexander College Logo

What is Pink Shirt Day?

Written by Alicia Fontaine in Event on February 27, 2019

Today is Pink Shirt Day !

In September 2007, two high school seniors took a stand and changed the meaning of the word ‘bullying’ forever. In protest to their classmate who was taunted with homophobic insults for wearing a pink shirt to school, David Shepherd and Travis Price, showed up to school wearing pink t-shirts. Thus, the anti-bullying movement that sprung from this simple act of kindness has garnered world-wide attention and awareness.

The Pink Shirt Day Movement:

Student holding pink heart for pink shirt day
Pink sky and clouds representing Pink shirt Day

The story made headlines and spread across the provinces of Canada. Nova-Scotia’s then-premier, Rodney MacDonald, declared a province wide “Stand Up Against Bullying Day”. This day took place every second Thursday in September.In 2008, BC followed and proclaimed its own anti-bullying day to fall on every February 27. Other provinces, including Ontario, also established their own anti-bullying day initiatives.

It finally reached the United Nations, which officially set May 4 as UN Anti-Bullying Day.

The movement which began in one province and spread nationally became an internationally recognized day in other countries. These countries included New Zealand, Australia, France, Lebanon, UK, and U.S.

There is also now an International Day of Pink, which encompasses many issues that overlap. This includes bullying, discrimination, homophobia, transphobia, and transmisogyny.

The umbrella term now includes a diverse group of issues that affect the diverse population.

The Meaning and Forms of Bullying:

Close up of girl with tear rolling down her eye
Pug in blanket looking lonely

According to “Canadian Bullying Statistics”, 1 in 3 adolescents report dealing with or encountering bullying, with more males experiencing the harassment compared to females.Bulling involves intimidating, harming, or coercing anyone perceived as weak or vulnerable. You can see, hear, read and feel bullying. It includes physical, emotional, psychological, and spiritual abuse or harm.

The prevalence of bullying has only increased with technological advancements, including the popularity of social media. People can hide behind screens and remain anonymous or use pseudonyms to target individuals, attack, demoralize or silently in order to destroy their online identity.

Often these individuals have a fan base who contribute to the cyberbullying and perpetuate the unwarranted hatred through writing, Facebook posts, WeChat, private chat rooms, tweets, Instagram pictures, snapchats, vlogs, and text messages, and other social mediums.

The Causes of Bullying:

Even though the person who does the bullying masquerades as a big, powerful, confident ‘somebody’, the truth is bullies are anything but these things. Rather, they feel small or insignificant, have little or no self-esteem, and are often carrying their own insecurities on their shoulders.

In other words, bullying is often a way for people to distract themselves from their own hurt by placing the hurt on others. They take the negative energy and try to create positive energy with the attention they get from bullying others. The causes of the pain are complex, often misunderstood, and not easily identifiable.

A Sad Case Close to Home

Unfortunately, there is usually no happy ending to the bullying.

Either too much damage has been caused and the victim of the bullying becomes the bully, or lives are taken as a result.

Amanda Todd was a 15-year old Canadian student from Port Coquitlam, BC who took her life as a result of being a cyberbully victim.

For a teenager, chatting online with both friends and strangers is a common and normal occurrence.

However, adolescents are also known to be a socially, emotionally, and sexually vulnerable population who often seek attention through risqué exploits within the online community.

While Amanda Todd believed she was just having innocent fun by exposing herself to a stranger via webcam, her vulnerability was taken advantage of by a deviant who used the images to blackmail her.

She then posted a video on YouTube of her story in the form of flashcards in hopes of receiving help and sympathy. Even though her life could not be saved in time, her video went viral, and the world knew the truth of what had happened to her and the pain that it had caused. Her experience created a platform for a national discussion on criminalizing cyberbullying.

My (Non-Existent) Experience with Bullying

Friends holding hands for support
Student high fiving her pet cat

To become an educator, I had to sit through various interview panels and answer questions regarding my experience and skills set with regards to teaching.Only once was I ever asked the most relevant question: “Why do you want to be a teacher?”

This was by far the easiest answer I ever had to give because it was from my life experience.

My answer was I loved school growing up; I loved everything about school, including the teachers, the content, the extracurricular activities, and of course my friends and classmates. The interviewers looked perplexed. “How was this possible?”, they asked.

When I was forced to think about it, the common denominator was a safe and respectful environment. I realized I had never been bullied in my entire academic career as an international student. I was an honor roll student, the shortest player on the volleyball team, was part of a Literature Club, and played the trumpet. All of these things could have made me a victim of bullying in some way, and yet I never was.

I should feel proud of this, and yet all I feel is sadness.

I am sad that my situation is not a reality for most Canadians. Everyone I know who went through the public-school system in Canada has a bullying story or scar. I also feel sorry for most of these people as they only speak of high school as a place they escaped from that they never want to return to, while I can only speak about high school as a sanctuary; a place where I was inspired, cared about, and created memories in.

Where Does Bullying Happen?

Since becoming an educator, I am more aware of how widespread bullying has become. It is not just in the classroom or online; it’s at home, on transit, at your best friend’s house, at the park, at the mall, in public washrooms. Anywhere you can find a group of people, there will be some form of bullying. This is because we are all different; we are different genders, ages, ethnicities, religions, races, and colors. It occurs in all countries, cultures, schools, and communities. It is a worldwide epidemic that must stop and change if we want to cultivate a space for future generations to communicate, work, collaborate, and play in.

Group of friends enjoying their time together
A team huddled together after a game

The Meaning of Pink in Pink Shirt Day:

The color pink is often associated with femininity and is stereotyped as “girly”. Girls have pink dolls, pink lipstick, pink nail polish, and pink shirts. So when a boy wears pink, often times we jump to the conclusion that he likes girly things, or that he is gay.

At Alexander College, I often see and hear the young males making fun of each other for doing non-boyish things, like being emotional, liking romantic comedies, shopping and wearing pink. When David and Travis went to school wearing pink in 2007, their intention was not to look girly. They wanted to stand in solidarity with their friend and let their adversaries know that the bullying would not be tolerated anymore.

Pink has now come to symbolize this acceptance and unity that the boys first openly and proudly practiced.

How to Participate and Show Support:

Rather than highlight the bullies, Pink-Shirt Day stands to highlight the victims of bullying. Rather than highlight the isolation, depression, and “otherness” that it causes, the pink serves to highlight the love, support, and community.

Want to know how to participate in this year’s Pink-Shirt Day?  Here are some of previous year’s slogans:

“Nice Needs No Filter”

“Kindness is One Size Fits All”

“Choose Kindness”.

Remember, it takes more time and effort to say something mean and negative than it does to say something kind and positive. I challenge you to #pinkitforward.


Disclaimer : Information for article taken from


Instructor posing for the camera outside the campusAuthor: As educators and parents, my husband and I (Alicia Fontaine) are strong advocates for safe home and learning environments, self-expression, and self-esteem. We want to raise our daughter in an open-minded, inclusive, and respectful world. On Wednesday, Feb. 27 my family will be proudly wearing pink, but every other day we have pink in our hearts. I hope one day there is no Pink-Shirt Day; I hope we can learn to live our lives through the symbolism of Pink-Shirt Day, without the pink shirt.

Looking to start the application process? Apply to AC here
You can apply online above or request additional information below.

Request Enrolment Information

Connect with us on Social Media!