In October last year, local activist Ryan Clayton organized a candlelight vigil to remember those that have committed suicide as a result of homophobic bullying. A year later, Clayton is back with another grassroots initiative called Purple Letters, a letter writing campaign to raise awareness of the homophobia and transphobia that continues in British Columbia schools.
Clayton is asking for British Columbians to write letters telling their personal stories about homophobia or transphobia and send them either to Purple Letter Campaign organizers or drop them off at one of many purple mailbox locations that are popping up across the Province. The letters will be presented to Premier Clark on October 20, the anniversary of the Vigil to End Homophobic Bullying.
While Clayton says some progress is being made, the EGALE Canada final report on The first national climate survey on homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia in Canadian schools indicates there is still much to do. The survey reports that two-thirds of LGBTQ students feel unsafe in their schools, 51% have been verbally harassed, and 21% have been physically harassed or assaulted because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. For transgender students it’s even more challenging, with 74% being verbally harassed and more than a third being physically harassed or assaulted.
Through the Purple Letters Campaign, Clayton is calling on the British Columbia government to become a leader in combating homophobic and transphobic bullying.
“We need a policy that will apply to every school in BC, to make schools safe and inclusive for all students and to help end discrimination against people based on their sexual orientations and/or gender identities.”
Visit http://purplelettercampaign.ca for more information.