Pulling up Pink Socks

After celebrating for the first time in 2019, Otago Boys’ High School have found their own way of keeping the Pink Shirt Day kaupapa alive throughout 2020. They're now pulling up pink socks to send a message of acceptance and aroha to their community!

“As a traditional boys’ high school we are always looking for ways to improve or modernise, within the boundaries of that tradition,” Rector, Richard Hall says. “We were looking for an opportunity to celebrate diversity that wasn’t hidden or gimmicky, but still connected with our traditions. We’ve been wanting to bring a positive message about diversity in boys’ education - a positive message about diversity at Otago Boys’ High School.”

In 2020, the school has over 800 students participating in a wide range of academic and extra-curricular pursuits. Up to five times every year they run interschool challenges with other boys’ high schools, competing across a variety of codes including rugby, chess, football, debating, hockey and badminton.

“We wanted to use these platforms to encourage our boys to understand that diversity is ok. When you put close to 200 of your top performers in pink socks, just like wearing a t-shirt on Pink Shirt Day, it sends a pretty powerful message.”

Support from the sidelines

With twice as many teams competing as last year, the event gives the school a very public opportunity to take a stand.

“At first you get a few ‘Oh, what’s going on here’ and ‘why are they doing this?’ questions, but it’s all really positive. Some of the senior boys are able to articulate the story really well now. We’re very upfront with our community about what we’re doing, that it’s about respect, one of our core values. It’s not just about anti-bullying for us, it’s as much about saying that coming from a different background or being different is ok,” Hall says.

Challenges along the way

This year, Covid-19 has thrown a few diversions up along the way, but that hasn’t stopped Otago Boys’ High School embracing the Pink Shirt Day kaupapa. 

“We’ve had some boys approach us about starting a support group, which would be good. Our message is that this isn’t just a one-off event - I think we’ll see many great things come from it!”

OTBHS

“Kōrero Mai, Kōrero Atu, Mauri Tū, Mauri Ora – Speak Up, Stand Together, Stop Bullying!”