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UTS goes pink, students unite

April 17th, 2015 · No Comments

Photo: Catherine Kaiser, UTS Schools

Photo: Catherine Kaiser, UTS Schools

For the second year in a row, University of Toronto Schools (UTS) will once again celebrate International Day of Pink on Apr. 8, at 1:30 p.m., in Matt Cohen Park at the corner of Bloor Street and Spadina Avenue.

Led by UTS guidance counsellor Catherine Kaiser, the 45-minute outdoor event is designed to engage the community and to build awareness of homophobia, bullying, and discrimination in schools and communities. Last year’s inaugural event attracted 300 students, or roughly half of the school’s population. This year, Kaiser anticipates the number of student participants to rise to 450. “It’s hugely validating for the students to get outside with their message of tolerance and inclusiveness, and have that validated by cars going by honking in support.”

A survey completed anonymously by UTS students before last year’s event revealed that a handful of closeted gay students were terrified, anxious, and afraid of what staff and other pupils would think if their sexual orientation was made public. This led Kaiser to open up to her students in a school-wide assembly about being gay herself. “I don’t think I had the support in my school or the role models to help me answer questions I didn’t know how to answer,” she said. “I take it upon myself to stand up and go ‘I’m gay, who cares’.”

The event has attracted support from local businesses, including this newspaper, and the Bloor Annex BIA, as well as the Toronto Police Service, whose mounted unit will attend in support of the cause. Participating UTS students and staff can win donated prizes from: Midoco, BMV books, Starbucks at Albany Avenue, Hot Docs Cinema, Cobs Bakery, Wiener’s Home Hardware, Annex Photo, Queen Video, Menchellas, Tea Shop 168, PoutineVille, and Almond Butterfly.

Community members are encouraged to attend, wearing pink of course! For further information, please contact Catherine Kaiser at (416) 946-0223 or catherine.kaiser@utschools.ca.

—Brian Burchell/Gleaner News

 

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