Wear It Purple: An important campaign to support queer youth
It is hard not to think about Ian Thorpe right now, particularly in the context of supporting young people who are sexuality or gender diverse. He is without a doubt an incredible role model for all of us and now, in particular, for young people who are questioning their identity, confused or troubled. He could in fact be the ‘poster boy’ for next month’s Wear it Purple campaign: ‘Don’t Box Me In’.
August 29, Wear it Purple Day, has fast become a highlight on the NSW Police Force calendar of events. You may wonder why police officers are that keen to get involved in a youth-led event aimed at challenging homophobic and transphobic bullying at school.
The job of police is to work with the community to reduce violence, crime and the fear associated with violence and crime. We aim to prevent crime wherever possible and working with young people, in school and related environments, through social media, at PCYC’s (Police Citizens Youth Clubs), are all methods to prevent crime. We hope that through engaging young people in a positive manner we can build trust and confidence in the police and educate young people about violence and its impact on individuals and communities.
Violence can take many forms and part of the job of police is to talk to young people about the escalation of violence, from what may seem to be a casual joke or put-down, through to verbal abuse and escalating to a physical act of violence. Through our many programs, specially trained police work with young people to support them if they become a victim of violence, and to educate and hopefully prevent them from perpetrating acts of violence.
[Image] The Wear it Purple campaign encourages diversity. photo: courtesy of wearitpurple.org
Most readers know about our GLLOs – officers specially trained on a range of LGBTI issues. They work hand in hand with our School Liaison Police and our Youth Liaison Officers who carry the responsibility of regularly visiting schools in their local areas to help reduce crime and anti social behaviours. They run workshops and educational programs and identify problematic issues within schools and work with students and families to address them.
We also have Crime Prevention Officers in every local area command who identify and develop a range of crime prevention strategies including community education and awareness campaigns.
Young people, we know, rely heavily on public transport and we now have full responsibility for policing the state’s transport network. Young LGBTI people are telling us they feel vulnerable on some public transport routes and we are responding by providing education and awareness training in the lead-up to Wear it Purple Day.
This year you will find all kinds of police involved in activities to support Wear it Purple and their 2014 campaign: ‘Don’t Box Me In’. We will be in schools and at key metropolitan public transport sites. Our Transport Police will accompany GLLOs and other officers on the day, distributing information and promotional materials as part of our Wear it Purple campaign.
We will also focus on internal awareness raising at our local police stations, turning all sorts of things purple.
Ian Thorpe’s coming out on national television is an excellent reminder that for many young people, being proud of who they are, may take some time and encouragement. It is so important to offer support, not judgement, so please join us by turning your own workplace, school, or profile photo on Facebook purple on August 29.