International Day of Pink (French...

International Day of Pink (French version available)

by Sarah Leung
Jobs People Do | JobsPeopleDo.com

What is International Day of Pink?

Not to be confused with Pink Shirt Day which takes place in February, International Day of Pink is a separate day of bullying prevention. Whereas Pink Shirt Day focuses on advocating against bullying more broadly, International Day of Pink advocates against bullying stemming from discrimination towards LGBTQ+ individuals.

Bullying continues to be common in young people. One in three Canadian adolescents have reported being subject to bullying, and that number must be higher if unreported incidents are considered. The COVID-19 pandemic has only further exacerbated the amount of bullying, subjecting more children to harmful experiences. For LGBTQ+ individuals, the rate of bullying is even higher compared to their cisgender and straight peers, and that cannot go unnoticed.

Therefore, although the days have similar goals in mind, a distinction and recognition of these issues are important. In researching this topic, I found several articles that seemed to use “Day of Pink” and “Pink Shirt Day” interchangeably, so pre-existing coverage only serves to stir up more confusion.

The Origin of Pink Shirt Day and International Day of Pink

Both Pink Shirt Day and International Day of Pink shared the same moment of origin: in 2007, two grade 12 students at Central Kings Rural High School in Nova Scotia, David Shepherd and Travis Price, saw a grade nine student being bullied. This student was called homophobic insults and was threatened to be beat up, all for wearing a pink shirt.

To show support for this student, Shepherd and Price bought 75 pink t-shirts and spread their plan of wearing pink through email, Facebook, and MSN Messenger. They planned to create a “sea of pink” the next day.

This operation was not without risks though. Through a call with school administration, the pair were told that they could face being expelled if any incidents occurred due to this “sea of pink.” They decided to go through with the gesture regardless, knowing that something like this needed to be done.

This moment started both Pink Shirt Day and International Day of Pink, with the former focusing on a more general goal to stop bullying, and the latter focusing on bullying stemming from homophobia and transphobia. In terms of International Day of Pink, the situation inspired Jer’s Vision, now the Canadian Centre for Gender and Sexual Diversity (CCGSD), to promote the International Day of Pink.

Why is International Day of Pink Important?

According to a 2021 Trevor Project report, LGBTQ+ youth are subjected to significantly higher rates of bullying compared to their cisgender and straight peers.

In the past year, 52% of LGBTQ+ youth enrolled in middle school or high school reported being subject to in-person bullying or cyberbullying. The rates of bullying towards LGBTQ+ youth were higher in those enrolled in middle school (65%) compared to those in high school (49%).

Students who were enrolled in schools that were more open to LGBTQ+ diversity reported 30% lower odds of being bullied within the past year. The study only further proves that, while 15 years has passed since the original event that created International Day of Pink, bullying continues to be an issue — especially for LGBTQ+ youth. The more that schools can promote days catered towards equality like International Day of Pink, the less stigma LGBTQ+ people of all ages will face.

Remembering the Root of the Issue

As Susan Lambert, a former president of the B.C. Teachers’ Federation (BCTF), stated in 2011, she did not want the message of Pink Shirt Day to become “diluted” – it is not a generic bullying day. Lambert went on to say that the day is supposed to recognize those who help stop LGBTQ+ discrimination and to stand up for those who are affected by it.

It appears that Pink Shirt Day has now taken that identity of encompassing a broad view of bullying, and Day of Pink, its less-covered counterpart, takes the mantle of championing the fight against LGBTQ+ stigma.

Although the article that covered Lambert’s statement conflated both days into the same meaning, Lambert’s statement still rings true to this day. We must remember that the original bullying incident that sparked change for Pink Shirt Day and Day of Pink to exist was rooted in homophobia.



“Bullying and Suicide Risk among LGBTQ Youth.” The Trevor Project, 14 Oct. 2021, https://www.thetrevorproject.org/research-briefs/bullying-and-suicide-risk-among-lgbtq-youth/. Accessed 12 Mar. 2022.

Culbert, Lori. “COVID-19: Isolated Youth Online More than Ever, Increasing Risk of Bullying and Other Cyber Crimes.” Vancouver Sun, 1 Jan. 2021, https://vancouversun.com/news/covid-19-isolated-youth-online-more-than-ever-increasing-risk-of-bullying-and-other-cyber-crimes.  Accessed 12 Mar. 2022.

Peristerakis, Julia. “Travis Price’s Act of Kindness.” Canadian Museum for Human Rights, https://humanrights.ca/story/travis-prices-act-of-kindness. Accessed 12 Mar. 2022.

Steffenhagen, Janet. “B.C. Politicians Accused of Ignoring LGBTQ Students.” Vancouver Sun, 22 Feb. 2011, https://vancouversun.com/news/staff-blogs/b-c-politicians-accused-of-ignoring-lgbtq-students. Accessed 7 Mar. 2022.

“Travis Price – Creating Pink Shirt Day.” YouTube, uploaded by Canadian Museum for Human Rights, 21 Jun. 2019, www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Zpw_KAEhDY. Accessed 7 Mar. 2022.

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