Two out for three students don’t feel safe.
Rampant and largely unchecked homophobia stalks the hallways and classrooms of most Canadian schools, is the key finding of a national study on homophobia in Canadian schools to be released today at the University of Winnipeg.
Homophobic comments are a common place and accepted part of Canadian school life, even uttered by some teachers, according to the report said, adding two out of three non heterosexual students do not feel safe in their schools.
"LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, two-spirited, queer, or questioning) students are exposed to language that insults their dignity as part of everyday school experiences, and youth with LGBTQ family members are constantly hearing their loved ones being denigrated," says the study being released at the annual general meeting of Egale Canada, an anti-homophobia human rights organization.
The survey of 3,700 Canadian high school students between December 2007 and June 2009 was conducted by University of Winnipeg education professor Catherine Taylor and University of Manitoba sociology professor Tracey Peter.
While no one should be surprised that homophobia still exists in schools, the report highlights the extent of homophobia and its impact on young students, and discovered some surprising data, reports the Vancouver Sun
Girls and young women are more likely than boys and young men to suffer verbal and physical harassment because of their sexual orientation.
That surprised the researchers, who said the popular misconception is that straight boys are more likely to be bullies, and have the opportunity to bully gay boys in gym locker rooms and washrooms where there is no adult supervision.
While many schools have well-developed human rights policies based on the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, few specifically include LGBTQ people in those policies, the report says.
The report says teachers are not automatically allies of students suffering discrimination, nor do they always intervene: "Teachers often look the other way when they hear homophobic and transphobic comments, and some of them even make these kinds of comments themselves."
The report found that close to 10 per cent of straight students have experienced homophobic insults and physical harassment because of perceptions about their sexual orientation.
Almost three out of five straight students find homophobic comments upsetting, a finding that the researchers considered "striking."
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