FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 17, 2009
13th Annual Day of Silence
Toronto: April 17th, marks the 13th annual Day of Silence, a student-led action to focus attention on the discrimination faced by young people on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression. Since the event began at the University of Virginia it has grown to include more than 8000 educational institutions, from middle schools to universities.
This day is a way to explore the progress which has been made towards equal rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer and questioning (LGBTQ) persons but also to show how much is yet to be done. A recent survey by Egale Canada found that over half of LGBTQ participants do not feel accepted at school and over a quarter of them have skipped class because of safety concerns. Trans identified students faced even greater discrimination with 95% reporting that they feel unsafe at school and almost half had skipped school because of it.
The survey was launched in 2007 and nearly 1,700 responses from participants from cities, small towns, rural areas, reserves, and armed forces bases in every province and territory of the country have been collected. The report provides a clear portrayal of the situation for LGBTQ students and sets the groundwork for positive change in Canadian schools.
The report’s recommendations include the implementation of anti-homophobia and anti-transphobia policies as well as school board support for Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) clubs, which connect LGBTQ students and allies with the aim of creating safe and inclusive school environments. The report also proposes actions on the part of provincial Ministries of Education and School Boards to help create, assess, and enforce policies regarding LGBTQ issues.
Phase Two of the report will be released later this year.
For a copy of the Executive Summary of Egale's First National Climate Survey on Homophobia and Transphobia in Canadian Schools - www.climatesurvey.ca.
Helen Kennedy, 416-270-1999