Today is Pink Shirt Day, which encourages “everyone to practice kindness and wear pink to symbolize that [they] do not tolerate bullying.” Reflecting on this admirable annual event, we at CHASI feel that it is increasingly important that our commitment to “being kind” be augmented with our acknowledgement of — and consequently outrage at — the everyday violence experienced by LGBTQ individuals. That we pause before we contribute to the harm experienced by heaping all bullying together in one more chorus of the “all victims matter” refrain. Yes, of course all victims matter; however, our inclination to generalize these experiences reflects our unwillingness to engage in the difficult work that leads to meaningful change.
According to a recent Statistics Canada survey:
- Gay, lesbian, bisexual and other sexual minority people in Canada were almost three times more likely than heterosexual Canadians to report that they had been physically or sexually assaulted in the previous 12 months in 2018.
- They were more than twice as likely to report having been violently victimized since the age of 15.
- Sexual minority Canadians were also more than twice as likely as heterosexual Canadians to experience inappropriate sexual behaviours in public, online or at work in the previous 12 months.
So, while the word “bullying” carries increasing weight thanks to campaigns like Pink Shirt Day, we can no longer minimize the systemic and individual violence perpetrated against LGBTQ people in Canada and around the world. We must call targeted violence what it is, and advocate against it, denounce it, and fight it every day — not just on Pink Shirt Day.
This animation by Celina Koops is part of CHASI’s ongoing series acknowledging some of the significant annual observances that align with our core values. To learn more and see the other illustrations in this series, please visit our observances page.