LGBTQ+ is an acronym that encapsulates essentially anyone that does not identify as a heterosexual, cisgendered person. A stats Canada study shows that 4-10% of all Canadian youth identify within the LGBTQ+ community, meaning that roughly 1 in 10 students are more susceptible to higher rates of mental health issues, substance abuse, and suicide (which will be looked at more in depth on our statistics page). Up until very recently, the LGBTQ+ community has been ostracized, harassed, and ignored, especially in the institutionalized school setting. Studies show that having supportive workplaces (i.e. schools), support from peers, friends, and family, and adopting low levels of internalized homophobia are key factors in promoting positive mental health and wellbeing for LGBTQ+ individuals (Goldberg et al, 2011). How do we ensure that this support is being provided?
The obvious answer is the incorporation of these studies into the curriculum. The only was to truly beat ignorance is not to fight it, but to provide the proper education and awareness in order to promote a wider range of acceptance. Unfortunately, “educators’ participation in creating supportive school environments is inconsistent and often limited by a cultural belief that speaking about LGBTQ issues in any capacity is inappropriate for the school environment”, and in order to break the stigma, proper training and understanding must be attained (Payne & Smith, 2011).
There are many readily available resources for LGBTQ+ youth to fall back on in times of need; many schools have GSA (gay/straight alliances) in place within their school walls, providing a safe space to go to in times of need. However, GSA’s do not provide adequate education to the students or staff, and often only provide small bouts of awareness and various fundraisers towards the cause. Campaigns like “It Gets Better” and other similar movements do provide a sense of hope and the feeling that you are not alone, however, with the implementation of LGBTQ+ studies in the curriculum, youth won’t have to wait until “It Gets Better” because the deconstruction of ignorance towards the subject will make it better now.