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Labour MPs support first Pink Shirt Day in NZ

25 February 2009 Media Statement

Labour MPs support first Pink Shirt Day in NZ

Labour’s Rainbow Caucus MPs are today donning appropriately coloured shirts in support of the country’s first ever Pink Shirt Day, designed to highlight the need to prevent bullying in schools.

The first Pink Shirt Day took place in Halifax, Nova Scotia, 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.

The boys, David Shepherd and Travis Price, decided that the bullying had to stop. They went to a discount store and bought 50 pink tank tops, sent out the message to schoolmates that night, and the next morning handed them to students to wear – silencing the bullies immediately.

This year key education groups including NZEI Te Riu Roa and the PPTA have joined forces with SS4Q* - a national network working towards making schools safer for queer young people – to promote Pink Shirt Day here.

Labour’s Rainbow Caucus members Grant Robertson, Maryan Street, Charles Chauvel and Chris Carter are all planning to wear pink shirts in support.

“Pink Shirt Day is about making schools safer for all children. It is an important initiative to get up and running here in New Zealand because international studies have shown our school bullying rates are particularly high,” Grant Robertson said.

“Lesbian and gay students are especially vulnerable to bullying, which is why our Rainbow caucus is taking a stand,” Maryan Street said.

“As former Education Minister, I introduced new bullying guidelines last year that required the Education Review Office to check that schools have specific strategies in place to address homophobia and other forms of bullying. But the community also has to stand up and say ‘it’s not ok’,” says Chris Carter.

“We must keep working to stop this physical and emotional violence and make our schools safe for all of our young people to learn in,” said Charles Chauvel.

ENDS

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