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Thursday, September 13, 2007

Student Activities

posted by on September 13 at 15:27 PM

pinkshirts.jpg

Where were these guys when I went to high school?

Some poor kid in Nova Scotia shows up for his first day of high school wearing a pink shirt. Ten bullies surrounded the kid, mock him, and threaten to beat him up—because wearing pink means you’re a homo.

The next day, Grade 12 students David Shepherd and Travis Price decided something had to be done about bullying.

“Itís my last year. Iíve stood around too long and I wanted to do something,” said David.

They used the Internet to encourage people to wear pink and bought 75 pink tank tops for male students to wear. They handed out the shirts in the lobby before class last Friday—even the bullied student had one.

“I made sure there was a shirt for him,” David said.

GLSEN should give ‘em a medal, says Towleroad.

UPDATE: Reading the Chronicle Herald story again, this detail jumped out at me…

When the bullied student put on his pink shirt Friday and saw all the other pink in the lobby, “he was all smiles. It was like a big weight had been lifted off is shoulder,” David said. No one at the school would reveal the studentís name.

Travis said that growing up, he was often picked on for wearing store-brand clothes instead of designer duds.

So these seniors empathized with a freshman being picked on by homophobic bullies—a kid that may not even be gay—because one of them was picked on because his family couldn’t afford designer clothes.

Hmmm

Why should we wait for GLSEN to pin a medal on these two kids? A lot of grown-up gay men out there are going to be moved by this story—I know it moved me—and a lot of grown-up gay men can afford designer clothes. And gift certificates for designer clothes. I’m thinking maybe we should thank Travis and David by sending the boys some gift certificates. They deserve all the designer duds their hearts’ desire.

What do you say, guys?

RSS icon Comments

1

That is incredibly cool.

Posted by me | September 13, 2007 3:42 PM
2

Considering many folks in Nova Scotia would feel at home(-ophobically) in the Midwest, I'll concur with #1.

Posted by Ziggity | September 13, 2007 3:47 PM
3

What #1 said. I'm stunned.

Posted by me too | September 13, 2007 3:49 PM
4

That tears it. I'm applying to Dalhousie med for next year.

Posted by john | September 13, 2007 3:51 PM
5

This almost clears up the pit in my stomach from that survey this morning.

Posted by regurg | September 13, 2007 3:52 PM
6

Those kids ROCK! Awesome!

Posted by chrisdiani | September 13, 2007 4:04 PM
7

Excellent!

Posted by StotheL | September 13, 2007 4:05 PM
8

Yeah, that is pretty fuckin cool of them. Bullies suck!

Posted by monkey | September 13, 2007 4:09 PM
9

All right!

Posted by Will in Seattle | September 13, 2007 4:16 PM
10

That gives me the warm fuzzies.

Posted by rtw | September 13, 2007 4:18 PM
11

Designer duds and maybe a blurb in a nationally syndicated column?

Posted by Phelix | September 13, 2007 4:41 PM
12

That's for sure, but next week's column is already out. It'll be in the column the week after next.

Posted by Dan Savage | September 13, 2007 4:48 PM
13

Set up some sort of PayPal donation thing, then try getting it up on Digg and other such sites.

Posted by JC | September 13, 2007 5:04 PM
14

Great idea about the designer clothes. Do it.

Posted by Katelyn | September 13, 2007 5:06 PM
15

Fucking yes! If you put together some kind of fundraiser, I'd happily contribute.

Posted by Gloria | September 13, 2007 5:14 PM
16

I think these kids are beyond the point where designer clothes will really change how they are treated. If their families can't afford designer clothes, they could probably use some help with college funds. Send them some Bonds or start the Slog Scholarship.

Posted by Leeerker | September 13, 2007 5:17 PM
17

We can send 'em gift certificates and they can cash 'em out and do what they want with the money -- including college funds.

Posted by EXTC | September 13, 2007 5:19 PM
18

"Tough Enough To Wear Pink" is a campaign to support the Breast Cancer Research Foundation and Susan G. Koman Foundation. When I was working retail we sold plenty of "Tough" pink T-shirts all through the store...even in the boys department.

You can order one online at www.toughenoughtowearpink.com

Posted by yucca flower | September 13, 2007 5:33 PM
19

like #13 said, set up a paypal, mention it in Savage Love, and I'd be happy to contribute a bit anyway. Not only was the thought nice, but they bought 75 shirts with their own money, which can't be cheap either.

Posted by Straight but not narrow | September 13, 2007 5:46 PM
20

don't you typically buy 'designer' clothes in stores, making them also 'store-bought'? where else would you buy them?

canadians are wierd.

Posted by maxsolomon | September 13, 2007 5:54 PM
21

It says store-BRAND, not store-bought. Like Kirkland is the Costco brand and Heritage is the Albtersons brand-- its usually the cheapest brand in the store and often not as good quality. So I think they mean buying clothes that say Target on the label instead of clothes that say, you know, Roxy or whatever.

Anyway that is awesome. And its early enough in the year that they can probably use that when they have to write essays on their "leadership qualities" for college admissions.

Posted by J | September 13, 2007 6:01 PM
22

These boys are awesome but I'm slightly confused about #2's comment about Nova Scotia considering NS is more then welcoming and in fact todays paper also had a huge article about different families including same sex. I would think that most who live in NS would agree that for the most part it is pretty progressive.

Posted by Fergus | September 13, 2007 6:08 PM
23

@#22 In Canada we sometimes unfairly make fun of Nova Scotia for being about 15 years behind the rest of the country. But that still puts them about 15 years ahead of the U.S.
Kudos to the men in pink!

Posted by voluptuous_vegan | September 13, 2007 8:11 PM
24

I'd have to agree with #22 about NS being progressive. They were the first province to recognize same-sex marriages. On the other hand, they've also experienced some jackassery in the form of the mayor of Truro, who refused to fly the rainbow flag during Pride on the grounds it conflicted with his Christian beliefs.

Posted by Rebecca | September 13, 2007 8:35 PM
25

Major kudos to these guys, and a very nice thought on sending them something.
But I was just going to say that speaking as someone who never wore designer clothes in high school either, I'm not really comfortable in it. The things one gets picked on for aren't necessarily something one's eager to change. Nevertheless, it's a lovely idea, and I'm not REALLY knocking it.

Posted by katherine | September 13, 2007 9:02 PM
26

Dan - I'm *so* in if you set up the paypal set up, but I think the scholarship may be more appropriate at this stage then buying these gentleman some nice clothes, deserving as they are of those as well.

Posted by jason | September 13, 2007 9:04 PM
27

I agree that the scholarship idea is much better. They're seniors and they can obviously hold their own no matter what clothes they're wearing-- and now that they've made such a big deal out of not caring waht anyone is wearing, I don't know if they'd even want to switch over to wearing designer brands.

Posted by J | September 13, 2007 9:39 PM
28

Whoa, guys, Whoa.

First find out if the kid *wants* designer clothes.

When I was getting called fag and learning how cope with assholes, I just wanted to be anonymous. I *hated* everything that drew attention to me, as it just made me more of a target. Not that it was an ideal way to live, but it bought me time as I grew more comfortable in my own skin.

I'm not saying 'don't help the kid,' just find out if he digs what you're pushing.

Posted by opticsdoug | September 13, 2007 9:41 PM
29

I'd feel uncomfortable encouraging the idea that designer clothes are necessary to be cool and popular. If new expensive clothes win the boys any friends, they won't be real friends and it won't be real respect. The scholarship idea is a nice one, though.

Posted by Rachel | September 13, 2007 9:42 PM
30

"Iíve stood around too long and I wanted to do something"

This kid and his friend are fucking awesome.

I'd love it if someone set up a PayPal account so these guys could be reimbursed for the shirts (and then keep the leftover money for college or whatever else they want). I'd do it but I have no idea how.

Posted by Julia | September 14, 2007 12:11 AM
31

I'm with the scholarship crowd. If he was picked on for not having designer clothes, does he really want to be like those designer-clothes-wearing assholes?

Posted by Podunk | September 14, 2007 12:26 AM
32

Sounds like a great idea, but it might be nice to include the kid who was bullied, too.

Posted by Jen | September 14, 2007 1:00 AM
33

the kids are awesome! super kudos to them!!!!!

dan's idea........ designer clothes????? please! that is stupid. if it were me, I'd rather receive money to travel or buy a bike or whatever, but spending $100 in a pair of jeans? no way. That really follows the stereotype of the shallow gay man.

Posted by girl in spain | September 14, 2007 1:11 AM
34

Yeah, I'm going to have to agree with #33. Two years ago as a high school senior, I would have much preferred college help over receiving what the people who taunted me were wearing. Giving them designer duds does kind of seem stereotypical, and also just reinforces that you need designer clothing to show success. I think paypal would be a better option by far.

Posted by John K | September 14, 2007 4:01 AM
35

At the junior high I teach at, students have spirit week three times a year. On color day, only 9th graders ever get to wear pink - boys and girls. They come to school head to toe decked out in pink clothes. If there is a choice of colors for paper or anything we use in class, the students almost universally want pink. Not sure what it is all about, but I also know that the students I teach now are also way more willing to defend gay kids than when I was in junior high and high school.

Posted by lanik | September 14, 2007 5:43 AM
36

That is so sweet, makes me proud to be Canadian.

#24 I can't believe the mayor did that, people like that shouldn't even believe allowed in office or to call themselves christian. Christians are alway the first to preach about Jesus and loving thy neighbour and turn the other cheek and yet for some reason they're also the first to stand in the way of other just wanting equal rights as human beings.

I got off topic there...

Posted by Jen#2 | September 14, 2007 5:59 AM
37

Am I an asshole for thinking the seniors should have kicked the bullies' asses just for good measure?

Also, re: GCs for abercrombie vs scholarship fund...You all are way too serious. I'm not a fashion queen, but sometimes it just nice to buy some cool threads. College money is just way too responsible. Maybe it's just the kid in me speaking, but when I was in HS I would have been way more pumped about GCs. Then again, I was kind of a jerk off in HS...

Posted by Mike in MO | September 14, 2007 6:24 AM
38

@37: A better approach would have been to have a senior challenge a bully in a one-on-one confrontation. Most bullies will VERY QUICKLY back off from a fight if he doesn't have a clean-cut chance of winning it. Having a real fighter take him on is the most effective way to show him his lack of manhood.

Posted by Paul | September 14, 2007 6:53 AM
39

I agree with not giving gift certificates and instead focus on getting them money to go to college and moving out of that environment. (Fashion is good for a season or two but a good education will allow them to get the hell our of there)

Posted by Cato the Younger Younger | September 14, 2007 7:03 AM
40

Anyone know anyone at Abercrombie & Fitch (or other fashion brand)? If slog readers set up a scholarship fund I bet the fashion brand would be willing to match it with an in-kind donation of their cool threads.

Posted by Jchu2 | September 14, 2007 7:48 AM
41

What if they don't want to go to college? Obviously, they are responsible enough to spend money well, so why not just send them a few dollars via Paypal or money order?

Posted by Aynsley | September 14, 2007 7:58 AM
42

Being from the province in question, I'd like to add that I was extremely impressed with these young fellows. While I felt the same way about the bullies as Mike @ #37, I think our heroes' chosen approach was just as cool, and a bit more mature. "Bully" for them! :P

Personally, I'd definitely like to see these guys get a bursary for showing the good stuff to the rest of us. At a time when a string of recent swarmings have many residents ready to hang teens from the highest tree, here come a couple of young people to show the rest of us that it's hardly all bad news in our schools.

Posted by Resident Weevil | September 14, 2007 8:17 AM
43

Not too many designer shops in Cambridge (or even Halifax) N.S.

The thought is nice, though.

Posted by Jamoo | September 14, 2007 8:18 AM
44

I can't believe there are posters that think Abercrombie clothes are "cool threads."
Personally, when I was in High School, we used to go into Abercrombie and just look around to try to find clothes that didn't have the logo plastered on them. Not actually buy them.(Clearance rack was a good bet.) Or that old chestnut, find the minority in the homoerotic photos.
Is poster interest in Abercrombie an ironic hipster thing?

Posted by Leeerker | September 14, 2007 10:25 AM
45

sending these kids designer clothes is the most deeply idiotic response to this situation I can possibly imagine.

dudes used their experience with class-consciousness to develop a sense of empathy that expanded to people who were different from them.

the appropriate response is NOT to buy into the consumeristic fashion crap that perpetuates bullshit hierarchies.

Will Dan Savage EVER develop class consciousness? Probably not.

Posted by Kevin | September 14, 2007 11:54 AM
46

ok, you guys need to relax. having nice clothes isn't just about "fitting in" or whatever, store brand clothes really are of lower quality, and it's fun to go out and treat yourself to something really nice once in a while. which seems to be the point of dan's idea--something fun, a treat, not something serious and practical. i mean, ask the kids what they want, sure, but i think it's ok to just do something trivial once in a while and have it be special and random, not have EVERYTHING have to be so serious! let them have some fun clothes! it's not the end of the world. and don't expect these guys to be saints that don't care how they look at all...it's not shallow to want to look nice and feel good about what you're wearing!

Posted by sara | September 14, 2007 12:14 PM
47

But it's pretty shallow and condescending to impose your idea of what it means to look nice and feel good onto other people--or to assume that these kids ACTUALLY STILL WANT name brand clothes.

From this episode, we could learn a really important lesson about the awesome power of coalition building between working-class and queer populations. we could start to get at the real roots of homophobia. Or we could be self-serving and condescending!

Posted by Kevin Erickson | September 14, 2007 12:33 PM
48

Those two guys are really good people.

They stood up against a culture that bullies people for what they wear...

...should we reward them with the kinds of clothes that they were bullied for not wearing? That seems kind of backward to me. They went out of their way *not* to be part of or endorse the designer-clothes-are-better crap.

Not just not to be part of it, but to TEAR IT DOWN at their school. It almost seems like sending them designer duds would be insulting.

Just a thought.

Posted by sandy shoes | September 14, 2007 1:19 PM
49

I don't know how I feel about monetary rewards for doing the right thing, but it does seem like a good thing to do SOMETHING for people who go above and beyond. As for that thing being gift certs/designer clothing, that smells a bit like "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em." Not such a good thing.

Posted by Dorion in Detroit | September 14, 2007 1:47 PM
50

Awesome! Really great story.

But a pay-pal account? Designer clothes? Scholarships? I agree a small something to acknowledge their effort might be appropriate, but this seems way too excessive.

How about donating all the money to an organization that provides shelter or resources for homeless queer youth? You know, the queer kids who were thrown out of their homes and dropped out of school as a result of homophobic activities such as those described in this article and worse.

Posted by Feminick | September 14, 2007 1:52 PM
51

Weren't knee-length pink T-shirts and polos all the rage a summer or two ago, a la rap star Cam'ron?

Posted by MC | September 14, 2007 4:14 PM
52

I say give them ipods and computer stuff. They can use the computer for university, if they go, or use it if they remain unfettered, edumacationally.

I'll donate...just point me to a direction!

Posted by sherah | September 14, 2007 4:30 PM
53

Has somebody found a Paypal account for these boys so we can show our appreciation..?

Posted by joeinbow | September 14, 2007 4:48 PM
54

I am so in. Tell me when the Paypal is set up and I will both donate and plug the hell out of this over here in Michigan.

Posted by Dawn Wolfe | September 14, 2007 5:20 PM
55

I await the PayPal account. They can use it for whatever they want as far as I'm concerned.

Posted by jgw | September 14, 2007 5:43 PM
56

A great story. But wasn't it the *lack* of designer clothes that helped out? In fact, no where in the article does it say that the boys want designer clothing, only that their lack of having it at one time caused them to get picked on (causing their later empathy).

I dunno--it all sounds like springing a puppy onto a "lonely" older person. I don't suppose we can take the trouble to ask them, can we?

Posted by Perm Dude | September 14, 2007 6:33 PM
57

Clearly these guys should be paid back for their purchase. And designer clothes is clearly NOT the way to do it. This gesture should not end up costing them anything.

Posted by klemme76 | September 14, 2007 6:53 PM
58

You know what teenage boys want more than designer duds? Older women.

If Savage love readers really want to encourage Straight Kids to stand up against homophobia, women need to put out to these kids.

Once this reaches critical mass, homophobia will disappear in about 24 hours.

Posted by dervin | September 14, 2007 9:32 PM
59

This gives me so much hope for the future. Thanks for a wonderful story

Posted by Barbara | September 15, 2007 5:51 AM
60

The school in question also happens to be in the federal electoral district of Member of Parliament Scott Brison, who in August became the first MP in Canadian history to marry his same-sex partner. It is a totally rural community and perhaps more progressive than many urban communities.

Posted by Chris | September 15, 2007 6:12 AM
61

Pink shirts legend grows
Valley studentsí anti-bullying success reaches CBS, Spanish newspaper
By IAN FAIRCLOUGH Valley Bureau | 5:02 AM

http://www.thechronicleherald.ca/Front/859436.html

Posted by Dale | September 15, 2007 6:50 AM
62

These guys ROCK.

They give me hope for a better future.

I have to say that it really speaks volumes for the shitty state of our society that a story about people standing up for other people who are being bullied is such a rarity that it gets international press. Think about it. Shouldn't this be a "yeah, soo?" story instead of a "WOW, it's hard to believe!" story?

Amazingly, it's bullying like this that fundamentalist Christians FIGHT to keep school districts from challenging. It's laws/rules against bullying like this that conservative Christians fight to keep off the books.

They believe that bullying gay and gender non conforming kids is a religious right and a free speech right and the best way to get boys and girls in line and in the closet.

It's really SICK!

Kids like these young men are their worst nightmare.

I guarantee you that this story is getting a completely different spin on fundy and anti-gay sites. If they report on these kids at all, they will call them trouble makers and instigators.

Posted by Zeke | September 15, 2007 6:55 AM
63

http://www.thechronicleherald.ca/Columnists/859458.html

Kids in pink save the world

JIM MEEK | 6:09 AM

Posted by Dale | September 15, 2007 7:02 AM
64

Let's do it! How can we contribute?

Posted by garry | September 15, 2007 8:57 AM
65

I"m a 51 year old high school teacher, and I"m out, proud and gay. This story really touched my heart. Dan, set up a scholarship fund, and count me IN!

Posted by Luis Hernandez | September 15, 2007 11:25 AM
66

I'm sure that these boys are headed to college of some kind--give 'em money for books instead. Reward their leadership with something they can use.
And Kudos to those two completely awesome guys. :D

Posted by Grey | September 15, 2007 12:33 PM
67

I absolutley think something should be done for these guys. They went out of their way, put their own insecurities and issues aside and helped someone they didn't even know. Highschool can be a horrible place for people that dont fit in and honestly, these boys have single handedly prevented this kid from being miserable. If everyone did what these boys did, our world would truley be a better place...

Thanks guys!

Posted by McKenzie | September 15, 2007 2:56 PM
68

My wife & I happened across this site while looking for stories relating to Travis Price and David Shepherd, the two young men everyone is making all the fuss about.....their parents must be incredibly proud. I do not beleive the boys had any intention of causing this much attention to be drawn towards themselves & would most likely turn down offers of all the designer clothes being offered (they wouldn't have the closet space)......I'm not to sure about the scholarship thing as one wants to join the RCMP & the other study criminal investigation, #52 had a good idea involving the computer equipment.....without a doubt they could both use that. I have lived in Nova Scotia for 45 years & understand much of what all the kids involved are dealing with....I am the youngest of 4 childern & had to wear hand-me-downs from my sisters'.....not a good thing for a guy! I don't think they're interested in designer clothes.....I think they want to stop the bullshit going on in the schools around here. Many of you have commented on how "progressive" Nova Scotia is.....I say with regret that I don't beleive that to be true.....my experiences living in NS lead me to believe it is a very conservative & old fashioned society.....these two boys would like to change that......give them the utilities they need.....interviews.....exposure....maybe they can make a difference (they won't need designer clothes for Oprah as she will insist they wear the pink tank tops).
Sorry I rambled on so long but I have one final comment.....this is for #24.....I live in Bible Hill (across the river from Truro)....Mayor Bill Mills would be tared & feathered by the town if they thought they could get away with it....I, however, have Mike Smith for Mayor & work at the county office (which happens to be within Truro town limits & about 3 blocks from the Truro town office).....I watched from my office window as Mike raised the Gay Pride Flag outside my office window.....it was priceless!

Posted by Darryl | September 15, 2007 3:28 PM
69

That was a great thing for a couple of seniors to do, and to get more students involved was just awesome. Their parents have done a great job at teaching them to be good people! Kudos to them and their families for raising boys with such big hearts. I can only hope that my boys will grow up as strong and proud and caring.

Posted by Loretta | September 16, 2007 6:24 AM
70

Two words: scholarship fund.

Posted by Robin | September 16, 2007 5:46 PM
71

#33 Their environment seems to be light years ahead of Indiana and Arizona two states in which I reside. College Money Definitely!

Posted by dmherzer | September 17, 2007 2:30 AM
72

Wow, the definition for raddness changes every day. Kudos!

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75

Real Men wear pink.

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Well maybe he didn't actually WANT to wear designer clothes. Maybe he doesn't LIKE them, and since he doesn't seem to get bullied for not wearing designer clothes, maybe he doesn't need them. That was a really nice thing of them to do, though.

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That is so awesome. It's weird reading stories like this. Kind of a reality check for me. I live in San Fransisco so it's not big deal for people to do that kind of stuff here. But that really is awesome though.

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