A national study has been launched into whether there are enough resources and experts at schools across Canada for homosexual and transgender teens.


Catherine Taylor (University of Winnipeg)

The University of Winnipeg and the Manitoba Teachers' Society are spearheading the study, called the Every Teacher Project, to examine the climate of Canada's schools for LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, transsexual, two-spirit, queer and questioning) students.

According to the teachers' society, a recent study on homophobia and transphobia in Canadian schools shows those students are still being targeted.

It revealed 64 per cent of students feel unsafe across Canada, with 21 per cent reporting being harassed or assaulted in school.

"It's imperative that we create schools that welcome and celebrate diversity, and recognize it not as a liability or a problem, but a strength," said Paul Olson, president of the Manitoba Teachers' Society.

"From coast to coast to coast, teachers are standing up for all  their kids — not just those that fall into some comfortable majority demographic. This study will be vital to informing that work."

University officials say previous studies show Winnipeg is a leader on battling homophobia and transphobia compared to other jurisdictions, but more needs to be done to make sure both teachers and students are educated on gender issues.

Every national, provincial, and territorial teacher organization in English Canada has signed on to support the project, according to the study's leaders.

"We are very excited to see this level of participation, which is clear evidence that teachers across the country are moving strongly to improve the school climate for LGBTQ students, students with LGBTQ parents, and other students who suffer the toxic effects of homophobia" said Catherine Taylor, director of academic programs at the University of Winnipeg's faculty of education.

The survey will wrap up in February.

Some of the questions will revolve around what they see in class, what their feelings and views are about transgender issues and what concerns they have surrounding gender issues.