Apparently today was anti-bullying day. At least to judge from what was popping up in my FB and Twitter feeds this morning.
So what does anti bullying day mean? How do we stop bullying (remembering that bullies beget bullies and that sometimes the bullied then becomes the bully in another setting)? How does wearing pink make a difference? It might, I am just not sure.
I understand bullying. From a deep place I understand it. And because of that understanding I continue to believe that all those "zero tolerance" policies schools and other gathering places loudly proclaim are a bit of a joke. Legislation will never stamp out bullying. Education on manners or respect won't either.
As a person of faith I will have to say that only one thing will bring an end to bullying. NO not the church. [Given how many stories there are of church bullies that would be a very sad joke] But a transformation of human interaction. The transformation needs to happen so that the social stigma/sanction against bullying is strong enough to extinguish it. [For the record the same thing is true of things like drinking and driving or sexual violence or domestic violence or...] And of course as a person of faith I believe that such a transformation is not only possible but is inevitable. As Dame Julian said (and I quote so often in worship) All will be well, all will be well, all manner of thing be well.
And this is, I think where pink shirts come in. I think the pink shirt campaign is a sign that the transformation is happening. Not complete by any means. But it is happening. And that, as Martha Stewart might say, is a good thing. We are, for the most part, in a different place than we were 30 years ago when my classmates were making school life a misery for me and others in my school. [This summer I connected with one of those classmates and we both were able to name that at least part of our adult life choices had to do with healing from our Junior High years] We have a ways to go in schools and sports teams and churches and workplaces and many other places but we the transformation has started. God willing it will continue. God willing it will gain momentum and each new step will be a bigger one than before.
SIDE NOTE: This evening the St. Albert Public School Board (formerly known at St Albert Protestant Separate School District #6) had a meeting at which they were discussing a motion to pass a Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity policy. I believe from notes on Twitter that only one other School Board in Alberta (Edmonton Public) has such a policy. I also believe from a tweet I saw that the policy passed. Given that 20 years ago this same board was deeply divided about the issue of allowing condom machines in the high school (which would mean admitting to sexual activity by those students after all) in the interests of harm-reduction I can't help but think that this is a sign of how the world has changed
Knowing how these issues are such a part of bullying (even if orientation and/or identity are "normal") I think it is highly appropriate that the motion was on tonight's agenda. I am sure it is somewhat of a coincidence not a plan. But sometimes life just fits together that well...