By Jasminee Sahoye
Young people, who are being bullied or face discrimination, homophobia and transphobia because of their uniqueness, are being assured by the Toronto Police Service (TPS) that they should not feel alone and they can help.
They also say talk to someone trustworthy such as a teacher, your principal, parents, a relatives or call the kids helpline.
As International Day of Pink is observed every year on April 10 to show solidarity with Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) students, the TPS, in partnership with the students at York Memorial Collegiate Institute, celebrated the day with the launch of an anti-bullying video.
The International Day of Pink started when a Nova Scotia teen was bullied for wearing a pink shirt to school. His fellow students rallied – by all wearing pink – and showed their solidarity against LGBT-based discrimination.
Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair was on hand to launch the video.
“I think it’s a proactive way to educate kids on bullying at an early age. It’s in the best interest of the police to have our youth grow up knowing that it’s not cool to be a bully and, furthermore, that it won’t be tolerated,” said Court Officer Josh Wilson, who co-chairs the LGBT-ISN with Const. Gail Steed. “Not only that, I think we have a duty as role models to make a positive impression every chance we get.”
The co-chairs, along with LGBT liaison officer Const. Danielle Bottineau and Martin Blake, of the Video Services Unit produced the video.
Wilson said the video has a broad message that bullying for any reason cannot be tolerated.
“The overall message of the video is meant to speak to everyone who sees it, regardless of whether they identify as LGBT or not, anti-bullying is a message for everyone,” he said.
The LGBT-ISN is one of six self-support networks designed to help specific, self-identified groups share information and experiences, and provide mentoring and guidance so that members can develop personally and professionally.
The video is posted on the Toronto Police Service’s YouTube account and 1,000 DVD copies will be distributed to Toronto District School Board schools and Toronto Police School Resource Officers.
The Toronto Police Services Board contributed $5,000 towards the campaign.
“I am so impressed with the passion, honesty, and candour you see on the screen from our members, both uniform and civilian, of all ranks. It is so obvious that our members truly care,” Blake said.
“This sincerity communicates well with the audience, and so aptly demonstrates the enormous dedication of the Toronto Police Service and our members to work with our communities towards social justice and reducing victimization every single day.”