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Hon. Liz Sandals, Minister of Education: Statement to the Legislative Assembly

Hon. Liz Sandals, Minister of Education: Statement to the Legislative Assembly

International Day of Pink

April 9, 2014

Mr. Speaker, today I am proud to stand in recognition of International Day of Pink.

As members of this Legislature will know, the International Day of Pink started a few years ago, when a young man in ninth-grade was bullied for wearing a pink shirt in a Nova Scotia high school.

Two other students took action, buying pink shirts and handing them out to friends to wear to school.

This ballooned into hundreds of students wearing pink to show support for the bullied student.

They stood up against bullying and showed that it would not be tolerated in their school.

I want to recognize all of our young people who are wearing pink today in schools across Ontario, recognizing that positive actions can make a difference.

In particular, I want to thank Jer's Vision for providing such leadership on bullying prevention issues across Ontario and Canada.

I would also like to thank all members who are wearing pink today to raise awareness of the importance of bullying prevention and to help put a stop to it.

Mr. Speaker, while we have taken important steps to prevent bullying in our schools, we know there are still far too many students who feel unsafe or unwelcome.

And students who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered or questioning are too often targeted.

Sadly, we all know the tragic impact bullying and homophobia can have.

When I was the chair of our government's Safe Schools Action Team, I heard firsthand accounts of how devastating bullying can be on a student's success.

That's why we have taken measures to make our schools safe, inclusive and accepting so our students can thrive.

Since our government's Accepting Schools Act passed in 2012, Ontario school boards must take preventive measures against bullying and support students who want to promote understanding and respect for everyone.

Putting an end to bullying cannot be done by one person alone.

We need students, parents, school staff and community groups working together to prevent and address bullying in our schools.

While it is important for the entire school community to play a role in bullying prevention, sometimes it is difficult for students to know who to turn to when they are victimized.

That is why we continue to partner with Kids Help Phone so that our young people have access to 24/7 telephone and web-based professional counselling services.

Mr. Speaker, it is incumbent upon all of us to speak out about bullying

Not just today, but every day.

Thank you.