It’s as simple as giving a crap about other people’s feelings – and it starts at home.
Today (Wednesday) is anti-bullying day; a social movement spurned on in 2007 after a boy was bullied for wearing a pink shirt.
The following day two Grade 12 students arrived at school wearing similar rose-coloured shirts and bought 50 more to distribute.
Through e-mail and word-of-mouth the majority of the student body showed up wearing pink, a united front against bullying – a generation unwilling to look the other way.
Those adolescents deserve a standing ovation – their parents deserve one hell of a handshake.
Because this type of behaviour, be it good or bad, is taught.
Children do not show up at school wanting to hurt their peer’s feelings. They do not see a certain colour and go on the attack.
Certainly they do not associate it with terms such as “gay, fag, or loser.”
Recently my son hesitated to wear one of his favourite collared shirts.
“What’s wrong buddy?” I asked.
“It’s purple…” his voice trailed off.
“Yeah, you love purple,” I answered.
“I do… but… mama? Is purple only a girl’s colour?”
He looked me straight in the eye, pleading with those baby blues for reassurance.
I explained firmly there were no “girl” colours or “boy” colours. That every colour was for anyone to choose and anyone who told him differently was ridiculous.
And that’s where it starts. From one little boy, or girl to another. The stereotypes, the bigotry, the cliches, the institution of learned behaviour.
It is up to us as parents, as guardians, as teachers, big sisters and brothers to instill acceptance, to rejoice in differences, to embrace individualism.
It starts at home, let’s end the cycle.