Study: 43% of LGBTQ+ students in Quebec face a hostile school environment


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A survey conducted as part of the SAVIE-LGBTQ research project showed that 43% of LGBTQ+ students in Quebec report feeling unhappy or depressed due to a hostile environment in their school.

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Despite the evolution of mentalities in recent decades, homophobia and transphobia remain problems in the Quebec education system. The case of a 15-year-old transgender teenager violently assaulted at an Alma high school in October exemplifies the problem.

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Pascal Vaillancourt, director general of the Interligne organization, explains that this proportion is explained by a lack of awareness in schools. Young people, especially in high school, question their identity, and this search can often create vulnerability.

“Often the lack of education makes the environment unsafe, even hostile,” Vaillancourt said. “Unfortunately, the scourge of bullying still exists at school, where the vulnerability of a young person is attacked.”

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Data from the Canadian Trans and Non-Binary Youth Survey released in 2020 shows that 66% of young people have collectively experienced bullying, teasing and ridicule in the past year.

Some staff members also do not know how to properly welcome and interact with LGBTQ+ young people, which can reinforce the feeling of depression linked to the school environment.

Vaillancourt asserts that the implementation of more inclusive measures in schools could discourage this trend and allow better integration of students into their learning environment.

The vocabulary used is one of the main vectors of communication, he said, and staff knowing the right words to use could help establish a healthy dialogue inside schools. “If we don’t use the right words, or if we choose words that insult or invalidate someone’s identity, that’s what sometimes breaks bridges in conversations,” he said.

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Respecting pronouns and providing gender-neutral spaces – including washrooms and changing rooms – can also send a message of inclusion and make all students feel safe.

But Vaillancourt said making sure LGBTQ+ students feel included in the education system isn’t just the responsibility of schools.

“I think these are shared responsibilities and clearly government has a role to play,” he said. And parents also need to be aware of the issues facing LGBTQ+ youth to ensure consistent support.

Although there is still a lot of work to be done, Vaillancourt said he is confident that the situation will improve, saying there has been a “great evolution” on these issues in the decade he teaches high school. .

“There are alliances that exist, there are activities, schools have even started to transform their facilities,” he said.

To continue the fight against homophobia and transphobia, the National table against homophobia and transphobia of the education networks, Interligne and the research chair on sexual diversity and the plurality of genders will present a symposium to preventing and countering homophobia and transphobia in the education network from Nov. 24 to 26 at UQAM.

This story was produced with the financial assistance of Meta and the Canadian Press News Fellowship.


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