The second Wednesday in April is International Day of Pink – a day to stand in solidarity with 2SLGBTQIA+ youth against bullying.

The day was established in 2007 after students in Nova Scotia school saw a young person being bullied for wearing a pink shirt. Students at the school decided to show support by getting everyone at their school to wear pink the following day.

From here, International Day of Pink became an annual global event that seeks to end all bullying and violence carried out against 2SLGBTQIA+ people. Discrimination takes many shapes and while progress has been made towards eliminating these barriers from our society, it still persists.

Bullying can have many negative impacts on a young person’s health - short and long-term, well-being, and quality of life and does have an impact on youth homelessness.

2SLGBTQIA+ youth experience a much higher risk of homelessness than their peers making up 25-40 per cent of youth experiencing homelessness in Canada. Once on the street, they face additional hardships because of stigma and discrimination.

Approximately 25 per cent of the youth we serve at Covenant House Toronto identify as 2SLGBTQIA+ and we are finding that more and more youth in this community are showing up at our drop-in centre seeking care, support, food, and a safe place to rest.

Covenant House provides a welcoming, safe and inclusive space for all youth aged 16 to 24, regardless of their race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, or the circumstances that have brought them to our doors.

“Going into the shelter system in and of itself is traumatizing and often being who you are is the reason you are in the shelter system,” said Sanaya Dhabhar who works in our drop-in centre. “As service providers, we want to make sure we’re creating an environment that is welcoming and supportive for all the young people who show up at our doors.”

Learn more about International Day of Pink here.