Kitchener-Waterloo

LGBTQ community doesn't feel fully accepted in Waterloo Region, study says

The results of the OutLook study reveals members of the LGBTQ community don't feel fully accepted in Waterloo Region.

Some trans people avoid going to the emergency room, public washroom out of fear

The study was conducted online for people over the age of 16. (CBC)

Members of the LGBTQ community are struggling to feel fully accepted in Waterloo Region, results from a new study reveal.

Not only that, many actively avoid public places because they fear being harassed.

The OutLook study launched last fall to survey LGBTQ people in their perceived feelings of safety in the region, comfort using public services, experiences with harassment based on sexual orientation or gender identity, among many other categories. There were 526 survey respondents, the average age being 31.

"People do not overwhelmingly feel safe," data analyst Elin Moorlag Silk, told Craig Norris on The Morning Edition on CBC Radio.

Avoiding public spaces

Queer and trans people differed in their feelings of safety in the results, particularly when it came to use of public services.

While 43 per cent of queer people reported they felt safe on public transit, that number drops to 25 per cent for trans people.

Elin Moorlag Silk is the data analyst for the OutLook study. She also works for the Waterloo Region Crime Prevention Council.
Twenty-five per cent of trans people said they avoid emergency rooms when they need urgent medical attention.

Public washrooms also rose to the top of the list of places to avoid. Silk said over 60 per cent of trans people and 50 per cent of cis members of the rainbow community reported avoiding public washrooms.

"These are public necessities that people are actually actively avoiding because of fear of being outed, being harassed, or being otherwise treated poorly because of either their sexual orientation or their gender identity," Silk said.

Libraries deemed safest

Of a list of 23 locations in the survey, the place that ranked the highest in terms of safety for the community are public libraries.

For that reason, a community event about safer public spaces for the LGBTQ community and allies was held at the Kitchener Public Library, where Silk presented some of the highlighted results of the study.

Silk will also be working with organizations that provide services people use to give awareness training, for example talking about "what it means to have more than one gender option when you give someone a form to fill."

Working with universities and school boards to change policies and procedures to be more accepting to the LGBTQ community is also on the list of next steps.

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