Homophobia Creates Hostile World For Canadian Students

Dr. Catherine Taylor, Associate Professor, Department of Rhetoric, Writing & Communications and Faculty of Education, University of Winnipeg

Dr. Catherine Taylor, Associate Professor, Department of Rhetoric, Writing & Communications and Faculty of Education, University of Winnipeg

WINNIPEG, MB – A national three-year study involving 3,607 Canadian teens finds public schools a bleak place for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered, two-spirited, queer or questioning (LGBTQ) students. University of Winnipeg’s Dr. Catherine Taylor, Associate Professor, Department of Rhetoric, Writing & Communications and Faculty of Education,

and co-author University of Manitoba Sociology Professor Dr. Tracey Peter find that school hallways are saturated with homophobic language and 21% of LGBTQ students report being physically harassed or assaulted while almost two thirds – 64% – feel unsafe at school.

“What is striking is the gap students are experiencing between official school curriculum, which emphasizes human rights and diversity, and the curriculum of the hallways, where LGBTQ students feel unsafe, insulted or harassed,” said Taylor. “Students also see adults, including teachers, looking the other way rather than dealing with homophobic comments, and they express profound disappointment and cynicism about the adult world.”

Taylor also found hope in the student surveys. “It really surprised me that 58% of straight students report feeling upset when they hear homophobic comments. What that tells me is there is a great deal of untapped solidarity in students, and that the public school culture can change.”

Survey findings show that the problem of homophobia is widespread, but perhaps not all that deep: the climate is significantly better in schools that have taken even modest steps to combat homophobia. Taylor identifies three steps that can help change school culture. First, school divisions need to develop anti-homophobia policies; second, schools can form gay-straight alliance clubs for students; third, school curriculum needs to acknowledge the existence of LGBTQ people.

The report, Every Class in Every School: Egale’s Final Report on Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia in Canadian Schools was funded by community partner Egale.

Dr. Catherine Taylor will give a presentation and release the report tonight, Thursday, May 12, 2011 at 6:00 pm in room 2M72 – 2nd floor, Manitoba Hall, University of Winnipeg, 515 Portage Avenue. Media welcome.

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MEDIA CONTACT

Diane Poulin, Communications Officer, The University of Winnipeg

P: 204.988.7135, E: d.poulin@uwinnipeg.ca

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