PEI

Survey shows LGBTQ youth still feel unsafe in Canadian schools

A national organization says homophobia in Canadian schools hasn't improved much over the past 10 years.

Egale Canada says educational leaders are buckling under pushback from parents

Helen Kennedy, executive director of Egale Canada, says part of the problem has been 'tremendous pushback' from parents when trying to implement curriculum changes. (Jane Robertson/CBC)

A national organization says homophobia in Canadian schools hasn't improved much over the last decade.

Egale Canada conducted a survey in 2012 that showed 64 per cent of LGBTQ students did not feel safe in school.

The advocacy group conducted a similar study recently and found that not much has changed — 62 per cent felt unsafe at school.

Helen Kennedy, executive director of Egale Canada, said part of the problem has been "tremendous pushback" from parents when trying to implement curriculum changes that foster a diverse and accepting environment.

"The political will may be there to do the work, but the political leadership buckle under that pushback," Kennedy told Island Morning's Laura Chapin on Monday.

"If the leadership is not willing and they're not on board, then you may have a teacher who wants to do the work, but the principal and the school board won't embrace it."

Recent incidents on the Island

A few weeks ago, there were reports of bullying during Pride Day at East Wiltshire Intermediate School in Cornwall, P.E.I.

The Island's Public Schools Branch has contracted a third-party diversity and inclusion consultant to review what happened.

It also recently released draft guidelines for respecting and supporting gender expression and sexual orientation in Island schools.

Kennedy said schools need to integrate more curriculum that reflects the true diversity of communities and provide more education for teachers before they even reach the classroom.

Kennedy warned that if changes are not made, LGBTQ people will continue to experience hate and violence.

"It will be year after year of violence and discrimination. We will have large numbers of dropouts with our 2SLGBTQI youth," Kennedy said.

"We're already over-represented in the homeless population and that will continue as a public health crisis if we don't take action now."

The study makes a number of recommendations, such as legislating the inclusion of anti-harassment and anti-discrimination measures in safe school policies that protect LGBTQ students and to legislate mandatory LGBTQ-inclusive sexual health and family life education.

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