Last week a student at Central Kings Rural High School in the Annapolis Valley, NS, arrived for his first day of Grade 9 excited about beginning a new year at a new school, and wearing a pink shirt. One might think the colour of his attire would be an irrelevant detail of the story, but sadly, this was not the case. The teenager was singled out by a small group of students and harassed about his wardrobe. The local papers politely described that he was called a "homosexual" and, along with being verbally abused and mocked, was threatened with physical violence.
Two Grade 12 students, David Shepherd and Travis Price, heard of the incident and took matters into their own hands. After school, they visited local stores and purchased 75 pink tank tops and an assortment of pink hats, scarves, armbands, and other accessories. They circulated word of their plan via the internet, and met fellow students before school the next day to hand out the duds. By the time school started on Thursday, approximately half of the 830 students at the school were wearing pink in support of the bullied student and the principles of human dignity and human rights.
Of course their actions completely turned the tables on the bullies, and spoke volumes to the victimized student of his value as a member of the school and his place among the student population.
I have not been able to stop thinking about these guys since I heard this story a couple of days ago. Talk about the Gandhian principles of truth and ahimsa and the peaceful resistance of Martin Luther King, Jr. These two high school students have made a profound and powerful statement, one that hopefully will be heard far and wide. As Silas commented, if you pass a car accident and you jump in to pull someone out of the vehicle, you'll be lauded as a hero. It takes a lot more courage to take a stand against your peers, especially when your peers are high school students!
John MacKnight describes true inclusion, true welcome, as "standing at the centre of our communities and saying, in a voice that can be heard at the margins, 'We need you'". These guys captured that voice with eloquence, and without violence. Good for them.