On Friday May 20, thousands of New Zealanders, including children’s entertainer Suzy Cato, will celebrate Pink Shirt Day and take a stand against bullying.
Over 300 individuals, schools, community groups, universities, businesses and workplaces are set to turn Aotearoa pink and combat bullying – a record number for the campaign.
Ms Cato, a passionate supporter of the campaign says, “Pink Shirt Day is about showing a united front, showing strength and showing support for each other, regardless of age, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, ability, or cultural background.
"We may have experienced bullying at some stage in our lives. We may have even participated in bullying or supported it without realising. We can all play our part in preventing it,” Ms Cato says.
“Real change happens when we stand together and send a strong message that there is no place for bullying in New Zealand,” she adds.
Pink Shirt Day started in Canada in 2007 when two school students took a stand against homophobic bullying, after a younger student was harassed and threatened for wearing pink.
Today in New Zealand, young people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or intersex (LGBTI) experience high rates of bullying, particularly at school.
“Bullying in all its forms is unacceptable. We need to nurture inclusive environments where all young people feel safe and supported to be themselves,” Ms Cato says.
Mental Health Foundation spokesperson Moira Clunie says bullying is far too common in New Zealand and has significant and ongoing impacts on people's mental health and wellbeing.
“We know that students who are bullied are more likely to experience symptoms of depression and anxiety and avoid going to school. In the workplace, bullying harms workers’ health, wellbeing and ability to do their job,” Ms Clunie says.
“Pink Shirt Day shines a light on these serious issues and mobilises the community.”
Rainbow Youth Executive Director Duncan Matthews says, “We hope that through education and campaigns like Pink Shirt Day our queer and gender diverse people can feel safer and more secure in all environments.”
Those taking part in Pink Shirt Day will raise awareness of bullying while having fun running their own activities ranging from pink bake sales, morning teas, special school assemblies and skits, pledges, mufti days and more.
Pink Shirt Day is led by the Mental Health Foundation with support from The Peace Foundation, RainbowYOUTH, InsideOUT, New Zealand Post Primary Teachers’ Association, Youthline and Family Works.
To find out more about Pink Shirt Day events near you, please email Amanda Watson
M: 022 010 7396
What you can do
Find out more: