homophobic bullying

Stop Homophobic Bullying – LGBTQIA Rights as Human Rights

Photo of 6 hands touching, each painted a different rainbow colourby Nina Verfaillie

Over the past few years media outlets from around the world have covered the ongoing harassment of the LGBTQIA community through homophobic and transphobic bullying. The stories of homophobic and transphobic bullying appear nearly every day publicizing the stories of different victims and their individual and collective experiences of harassment and disenfranchisement.

Transphobic and homophobic bullying are clear examples of how discriminatory acts of harassment and violence speak to the base vulnerabilities of us all, and violate an individual’s basic rights.

The effects of bullying are well documented. We hear about the obvious suffering and torture of individuals bullied because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. We hear documented struggles of families to find recourse and justice in their communities, schools, places of employment and courts of law. These narratives demonstrate how often bullying is documented and reported and also how consistently it is ignored, ill-handled and in some cases supported or even committed by our community leaders.

In a 2011 study by the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network, an overwhelming majority of LGBT students reported being harassed for their gender identity or sexual orientation. The study revealed that 81.9% of lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender students reported being verbally harassed, 38.3% reported being physically harassed and 18.3% reported being physically assaulted at school in the past year because of their gender identity or sexual orientation.

That means that 9 out of 10 LGBT students have experienced harassment at school. LGBT students are 2 to 3 times more bullied than straight hetero-normative students and LGBT teens are four times more likely to attempt suicide. That figure doubles for LGBT youth who have been rejected by their families.

The effects of bullying are damaging enough without taking into consideration what it’s like to identify with and be part of a group where being bullied because of your specific identity is a dominant experience. LGBT bullying is frequently linked with suicide and depression. There are increased reports of victims engaging in risky sexual and drug-related activities as well as experiencing social adjustment issues and other long-term health concerns. In a school environment being bullied interferes with a student’s ability to learn and perform well and can impact the ability to graduate, find a job or have a career.

Without legal protections enforced through legislative mechanisms and support and participation from academic institutions, homophobic and transphobic bullying will persist and continue to threaten human rights as a whole. Bullying and harassment that specifically targets the LGBTQIA community is a human rights issue and failure to effectively combat and prevent discriminatory bullying based on gender and sexual identities threatens all of us. The absence of justice and victims’ rights cultivates an acceptance of gender and sexual violence and the selective and therefore ineffectual enforcement of human rights and civil protections.

Human rights are the universal fundamental rights of all human beings, inalienable from the human condition. These rights are the expressed embodiments of our shared dignity as people which are to be protected, guaranteed and enjoyed.

Human rights are understood to be the same for everyone. They are intertwined in both conception and practice. Individual human rights are dependent upon each other in order to be fully protected or accessed, and no one right is fully enjoyed without the same protections and guarantees afforded to provide the enjoyment of all rights. They are held through their universality and each individual right is an expression of a larger notion of the rights of us all and the explicit dignities of personhood. Read more

Posted on by Nina Verfaillie in LGBT Leave a comment

Canadian Politicians Let Bullied Kids Down

Pink Shirt Girlby Jarrah Hodge

Despite more and more high-profile bullying cases being reported in the media recently, in the last few days we’ve seen two anti-bullying policies defeated in Canada. The first was a motion brought forward by the Edmonton Public School District to the Alberta School Boards Association to protect LGBT students and staff from bullying through requiring schools to develop a zero-tolerance policy.

Disgracefully, 62% of trustees voted the measure down, including representatives from the Calgary Catholic and public school districts.

“Our concern was that if you are appearing to promote one group preferentially over the other, that it’s not appropriate,” Calgary Catholic chairwoman Mary Martin said in the Calgary Herald.

ABSA President Jacquie Hansen echoed Martin’s remarks, telling the Edmonton Journal that the ABSA didn’t want a policy that only protected LGBT kids. At least that was a nicer way of framing it than Pembina Hills trustee Dale Schaffrick, who was forced to apologize after telling the CBC that kids should act less gay to avoid bullying:

“If children with a gay tendency appear a certain way, we know that we have to be vigilant to make sure they are not discriminated against,” Schaffrick told CBC News.

When asked if those students should try to be less identifiable, he said, “I think for their own benefit… it would be helpful.”

The idea that LGBT kids somehow ask to be bullied by acting or appearing a certain way, and that their sexual orientation is nothing more than a “tendency”, is obviously ridiculous and offensive. But let’s take a step back again to look at what the more mainstream folks said about why they opposed this motion: because it singled out LGBT students and staff for protection from bullying. Read more

Posted on by Jarrah Hodge in Can-Con, LGBT, Politics Leave a comment

Vancouver Kids Pink Project 2: Born This Way

by Jarrah Hodge

For Pink Shirt Day last week, David Lloyd George Elementary and Churchill Secondary got together with eight other schools across Metro Vancouver and one in New York to put together this Pink Shirt Day dance to Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way”. It is awesomesauce.

Of course our old friends (sarcasm) at Burnaby Parents’ Voice had to protest the songand they even tried to get the government to step in and cancel the shoot. “The lyrics contain numerous slogans declaring Lady Gaga’s world view, which are offensive to most religions as well as atheism,” they stated in the Burnaby Now. Can I just say if they manage to stay together until the next municipal election, I look f0rward to them being shut out of school board a second time?

But anyway, until then, let’s just focus on the kids, who I’ve gotta say are pretty great dancers:


Posted on by Jarrah Hodge in Can-Con, LGBT 1 Comment

Pink for a Day

Pink Shirt Girl

by Alicia Costa

I have been spending a lot of time in my car as of late and am thus subjected to a lot of terrible radio. Lately I’ve been hearing one particularly annoying ad on one of the major radio stations. “From now to February 15th submit your design for a new anti-bullying t-shirt and you could win $500! The winning design will be sold at Metrotown with all proceeds going to Kids Help Phone.” Wee! Anti bullying is fun and lucrative! This contest runs in conjunction with ‘Pink Shirt Day’ on Feb 29 to raise awareness and promote zero-tolerance about bullying.

I really appreciate the sentiment behind Pink Shirt Day – it started as a grassroots organization by two grade 9 boys in an effort to stop the constant bullying they saw of a classmate. However, I have grown to resent the constant connection between ‘raising awareness’ and selling junk. Read more

Posted on by Alicia Costa in Can-Con, LGBT 1 Comment

Panel: Vancouver School Board Controversy

This is our second Gender Focus panel post, where we get responses from different contributors on pressing issues and news. The events we’re looking at in this post revolve around the Vancouver Board of Education’s homophobia policy, and specifically the appearance in controversial videos for anti-same-sex marriage groups of two Vancouver School Trustees, Ken Denike and Sophia Woo.

According to the Georgia Straight:

The Vancouver School Board passed a motion Monday (January 16) to re-affirm its support for the district’s anti-homophobia policy, as it voted to censure two NPA trustees for their comments that surfaced in controversial videos last month[...]

Bacchus said the censure motion arose from what she called the “mis-representation” of the board’s anti-homophobia policy through comments made by NPA trustees Ken Denike and Sophia Woo.

The first video that surfaced last month featured Denike and Woo speaking about their concerns with an anti-bullying booklet for teachers published in 2006. The second video was filmed at a Christian Social Concern Fellowship gathering, and featured Denike and Woo speaking about possible changes to the school curriculum involving LGBT issues, and implying that Vancouver only has a general anti-discrimination policy, and not a specific anti-homophobia policy.

The part of the issue that bothered me most is that the footage was filmed before last November’s election (when Denike and Woo were re-elected) but it didn’t surface until after. This had people like me questioning whether they still would have been elected if it had. In nearly Burnaby the homophobic Parents’ Voice party was routed at the polls in the same election.

But others accept at least Denike’s insistence that he is not homophobic or opposed to anti-bullying measures. Xtra reports Denike told them “his intention was to ensure that parents get a choice in what their children are exposed to in schools. He noted that parents can remove their children from personal health classes as long as the curriculum aims are fulfilled elsewhere.” But the GF contributors weren’t as forgiving. Read more

Posted on by Jarrah Hodge in LGBT, Politics 1 Comment

Toronto Students Talk GSAs

Xtra put together this video of interviews with Toronto students talking about being bullied and the support they received being involved with Gay-Straight Alliances.

Some quotes:

“As far as I knew I was the only gay person at my school and it was very, very tough…it is very important to have GSAs.”

“It doesn’t just help me coming out of the closet, it helps kids telling anything about yourself. Just having a conversation.”


Posted on by Jarrah Hodge in Can-Con, LGBT Leave a comment

Dutch Organization Takes on Homophobic Bullying

The Dutch Children’s Ombudsperson has released a new series of PSAs designed to bring up issues of childrens’ rights. The one above is based on the story of Dave, a 16-year-old who is bullied and beaten at school every day because he is gay.

According to Queerty:

What’s truly unique, though, is that these stories are true. In fact, that’s David himself you see from behind in the video. Queerty reader David Pfister, who brought the campaign to our attention, says, “the film it is shaking up Holland.”


Posted on by Jarrah Hodge in LGBT, Politics Leave a comment