I am still wondering when it gets better. People in the media, even in government, say it gets better. Just hang in there, they say. It gets better. But for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) youth still in school, how long do they have to wait before it gets better?
Ten years ago, on July 20, 2005, same-sex marriage became legal across Canada. Canada became the fourth country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage, and overnight the country became a tourism destination for same-sex weddings.
With that profound and historic change in legislation, Canadian lesbians and gay men finally attained equal rights along with other Canadians. Since then, many same-sex couples have exercised their right to marry. Just like straight couples.
Many observers would say that gays and lesbians have now achieved equal rights in Canada. Like the struggle for equal rights for women, the fight for equal rights for lesbians and gay men is old news. But is this true for all LGB Canadians? What about teens still in school?
Catherine Taylor at the University of Winnipeg and Tracey Peter at the University of Manitoba have described schools as “The Land That Time Forgot” when it comes to LGB youth. They argue that while LGB adults may enjoy equal rights in Canada, younger cohorts do not.
A national survey of homophobia by Taylor and Peter under the auspices of Egale Canada, a human rights organization, found that LGB youth were three times more likely than straight youth to report feeling depressed about school, and feeling like they didn’t belong at school.