Study: Gay Students Feel Threatened

May 14th, 2008

DUH Magazine

More than two thirds of gay students in Canada feel their safety is threatened at school according to a survey conducted by Egale Canada. The 1,200-student questionnaire was distributed in schools across the country, except for several Catholic school boards which declined participation.

Further to the banner statistic, the survey also revealed that fourty-one per cent of gay students reported having been sexually harassed at school (as opposed to only nineteen per cent of straight students), that fifty per cent reported having been verbally harassed, and nearly half reported having mean rumors spread about them at school.

Dr. Catherine Taylor, a researcher at the University of Winnipeg, was particularly bothered by the results:

This [sexual harassment] figure is shocking. Homophobia and transphobia is linked to poor performance in school, drop-out rates, and teen suicides.

Helen Kennedy, Egale’s executive director, was also worried by the results, saying that the high numbers could have been prevented:

There’s no issue around sensitivity training so the teachers, we are finding, don’t have the resources that they need to address this issue.

I agree completely, although it will be tough to make educators aware of the problem. Religious lobby groups have already successfully pulled optional diversity training guidebooks from teacher’s lounges.