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Pink Shirt Day marked across New Zealand

Fri 22 May 2015 In: New Zealand Daily News View at Wayback

Students up and down the country have switched uniforms for pink shirts today, while politicians, lgbti groups, police officers, members of the Defence Force and countless other organisations are backing the initiative. Check out our Pink Shirt Day gallery on Facebook, and share your own pics, here Aych McArdle from RainbowYOUTH says all are welcome to pop by their drop-in centre this afternoon Pink Shirt Day began in Canada in 2007 when two 17-year-old high school students decided to stand up for a friend who had been harassed for wearing a pink shirt to school. They bought 50 tank tops which students wore the next day to show him they had his support. It was brought to New Zealand by lgbti community groups and is now organised by the Mental Health Foundation. Anyone can run a pink shirt day anti-bullying event, and of course wear a pink shirt, but Mental Health Foundation Chief Executive Judi Clements says the lgbti focus remains important. “Some young people, particularly lgbti youth, are disproportionately affected by bullying, and this is not acceptable. It is up to all of us to ensure that schools and communities are safe and welcoming places for all people.” The senior leadership team at Albany Senior High School Among the many schools taking part this year is Albany Senior High School in Auckland, where the Pink Shirt Day event is being run with support from the recently established LGBT@ASHS group. Student are wearing a pink shirt or another pink item of clothing, and distributing wristbands and stickers. Another Auckland school, Rutherford College, is having a pink shirt mufti day, and sell rainbow ribbons from RainbowYOUTH. RainbowYOUTH itself will have a stall outside its drop-in centre on K’ Rd from 2.30pm to 5pm and Education Officer Aych McArdle says all are welcome to pop by, grab a goodie bag and get a photo taken. AUT staff and students AUT, Unitec and Auckland University are all holding events today. There are plenty of diverse Pink Shirt Day ideas on display around the country – tree trunks on Tokoroa’s main street have been dressed up in pink. In Taranaki, Waitara High School will have a pink day challenge and share statements such as "being gay is OK". Chanel College, Miramar North School, Otaki College and Paraparaumu School are just some of the campuses in Wellington hosting Pink Shirt Day events. The Greens are pink today Politicians spotted around Parliament showing support for Pink Shirt Day include almost the entire Green Party, Labour MPs Louisa Wall, Jacinda Ardern, David Clark and Jenny Salesa and Minister of Justice Amy Adams. Longford Intermediate School and East Gore School are the schools farthest to the south of New Zealand holding events. High profile New Zealanders wearing pink today include Jemaine Clement of Flight of the Conchords fame, and the Mad Butcher Sir Peter Leitch. Police Commissioner Mike Bush New Zealand Police are also supporting Pink Shirt Day, with non-uniform staff around the country allowed to wear pink today – and the Police Commissioner Mike Bush wearing an official t-shirt. Under his watch, diversity has been made a core value of the police force. The New Zealand Defence Force also onboard, with crew from the HMZS Canterbury wearing pink. The NZDF is also hosting ‘official Pink Shirt Day heroes’ who are five people from around the country who have won a day with the armed forces in Auckland. The winners include 15-year-old Ruben Krueger from Nelson, who is one of the leaders of Nayland College’s queer-straight alliance. “Pink Shirt Day to me means the opportunity to show solidarity,” he says in his winning entry. “As a victim of bullying, I know the feeling of isolation and being part of Pink Shirt Day makes me feel like I'm not alone and I know people who will support me and I will support others. “As I have a very ‘out there’ personality, I want to show that you aren't alone and you have friends no matter what. Every day is Pink Shirt Day to me.” Staff at the New Zealand AIDS Foundation office in Christchurch Key stats: • According to the Youth ’12 report, while 74.8% of same/both-sex attracted students felt safe at school all or most of the time, this proportion was considerably lower than among opposite-sex attracted students (87.5%) • Youth ’12 found that 43.3% of same/both-sex attracted students had been hit or physically harmed on purpose in the last 12 months. • Almost one in five same/both-sex attracted students reported being bullied at school on a weekly or more frequent basis. • The Youth ’12 report found that same/both-sex attracted students (as well as some opposite-sex attracted students) experience bullying because others thought they were gay, suggesting that same/both sex-attracted students are subjected to additional harassment, ‘over and above’ the bullying related to their sexuality. • Three times as many same or both sex attracted students were bullied weekly at school compared with opposite sex-attracted students     

Credit: Daily News staff

First published: Friday, 22nd May 2015 - 12:45pm

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