By Mashoka Maimona
Pink tees dotted Carleton University’s campus on Monday to celebrate Day of Pink, as students participated in a campaign to purge the campus of homophobia, said a co-ordinator of a Carleton organization which advocates gender and sexual equality.
“Diversity is not limited to gender identity or sexual orientation – we’re celebrating diversity as a whole. Everyone on Carleton’s campus should feel safe,” said Mike Wiseman, a co-ordinator for the Carleton’s GLBTQ Centre for Sexual and Gender Diversity.
“(Day of Pink) is a reminder for students that there is a campus for them that is a safe and productive community,” said Wiseman.
The international day against discrimination and bullying was sparked by a homophobic act of violence three years ago in Halifax, N.S. after a student at Central Kings Rural High School was threatened for wearing a pink shirt.
The sea of pink that poured into the school the next day with supporters donning pink shirts has turned into an international day of awareness that GLBTQ Carleton has adopted as their own campaign of solidarity.
Carleton’s own unfortunate act of homophobia earlier this year – the sullying of the residence door of a female student with homophobic graffiti – has prompted the sexual and gender identity centre to organize their own Day of Pink, Wiseman said.
“Generally homophobia that we witness on campus is not coming from malicious intent,” he said.
“It’s years of ignorance that the government hasn’t taken the opportunity to erase through awareness campaigns.”
These awareness campaigns must be implemented in high schools to ensure that university campuses can be open forums for conversation – where students can come away feeling accepted, said Wiseman.