More can be done to include LGBTQ students, teachers in schools: study
Cheryl Holmes, CTV Winnipeg
Published Friday, January 15, 2016 6:39PM CST
Last Updated Friday, January 15, 2016 8:03PM CST
A national study by a University of Manitoba professor, in partnership with the Manitoba Teachers’ Society, found part of the reason for a lack of LGBTQ education in schools was due to a lack of leadership and resources.
Bella Burgos was just eight years old when she became the face of gender and sexual identity in Winnipeg.
A human rights complaint was launched after Burgos, a transgender girl, was told she couldn't use the girl's washroom at her school.
“Most of the pressure to (study these issues) has come from students,” said Dr. Catherine Taylor, head researcher of the Every Teacher Project.“Teachers need to know that schools have their backs… and school district super intendants need to know that ministries have their backs.”
The Every Teacher Project is a 180-page report compiled after a survey of 3,400 teachers across the country.
It found the vast majority of teachers approve of LGBTQ education.
It also cited a lack of leadership and resources as one of the main reasons teaching hasn’t been LGBTQ inclusive.
The Manitoba Teachers' Society helped fund and publish the study.
“We need to be inclusive and encompassing and we need to have a safe classroom, school environment so every kid can maximize their potential,” said Norm Gould, Manitoba Teachers' Society president.
One school already working toward that is Tec Voc, where diversity education is part of the curriculum.
“I’m not exactly sure how all schools are, I just know that our school is one of the most welcoming; especially for LGBTQ youth, but for all youth,” said guidance councillor Shannon Falkenberg.
The study found teachers rated their schools mostly safe; however, it showed only 70 per cent found it safe for lesbian, gay and bisexual students.
That number dropped to 50 per cent safe for transgender students.
“I’ve only heard about maybe a few kids who've got picked on,” said Eve Lavallee, a member of Tec Voc’s gay-straight alliance.
Fellow member Echo Currier said,“this is the first school I’ve gone to that has a gender-neutral washroom. I’m really happy about that because it's an option for me.”
The Manitoba Teachers' Society plans to approach the government with the findings after the provincial election to see how to use the information in Winnipeg schools.
The study also found only two per cent of teachers said LGBTQ-inclusive education conflicted with their religious beliefs.