Jer’s Vision Day of Pink Gala honours role models for LGBT teens
Pink was the colour of the evening. Various shades of it dotted the ties, shirts and skirts of volunteers, students, teachers, parents and politicians who streamed into Tabaret Hall at the University of Ottawa on Wed 11 April to celebrate Jer’s Vision’s, Day Of Pink Gala.
Day of Pink is the international day against bullying, discrimination, homophobia and transphobia in schools and communities. It is also the signature event of Jer’s Vision, an organization that works with students to combat bullying and discrimination in schools.
In addressing the audience, Jeremy Dias, founder and Executive Director of Jer’s Vision said that the organization was present in schools every day of the school year and that he believed they were making a difference.
The evening also acknowledged individuals who stand against discrimination in their communities. This year’s recipients of the Youth Role Model award included a high school student, a teacher, well-known comedian Rick Mercer and posthumously, Jack Layton.
Mercer – who was wearing a bright pink tie he had bought earlier in the day – catapulted himself into the anti-bullying cause when he ranted on television about the need for LGBT adults to be role models. Although ranting is the norm for Mercer, he was reticent about his impact on the anti-bullying campaign.
“I just happen to be in the public eye and have a career where I run a commentary on national television so, on occasion I can speak about these issues,” said Mercer. “It is obviously organizations like Jer’s Vision that do the heavy lifting – they are the ones in high school, they are the ones that are doing all the work.”
He also said that many adults are out of touch of what was happening in schools. “My idea of high school is just simply irrelevant right now because it has been 20 years since I have been in high school. We have to look to these organizations that are run by volunteers and young people – with their skinny pants and their pointy shoes – to tell us what is going on in the schools, because we don’t having a frigging clue quite frankly. So, it’s not up to me to come up with the solutions it is up to them.”
Reaffirming Mercer’s belief about youth leaders was recipient, Brandon Timmerman. Timmerman, a high school student from Brockville, Ontario, founded his schools first Rainbow Alliance and started the town’s first Gay Pride in 2011. Timmerman spoke about his teacher and fellow recipient Lori Taylor, who apart form being the first openly gay teacher in the Brockville District School Board encouraged Timmerman to come out to his parents. Speaking quietly Timmerman said, “it is a pleasure to have her as my teacher and I can only dream to one day be like her.”
His remarks drew an emotional response from the audience and were a poignant reminder of how people can make a difference to.
For more info on Jer’s Visision: www.jersvision.org
Photo by Ian Robertson