General LGBTQ+ Statistics
As we begin to understand how people identify, whether it be their sexual identity or their gender identity, it is important to understand the prevalence of these identities in our own society when debating about the implementation of LGBTQ+ studies into the school curriculum. Canadians aged 18-59 were asked questions about their sexual identity in a Stats Canada survey from 2014. Approximately 607,000 Canadians identified as homosexual (1.7% of the population), 464,000 Canadians identified as bisexual (1.3% of the population), and in a 2014 survey on Canadians living in Ontario, it was found that approximately 1 in 200 Ontarians may be trans (referring to being either transgender, transsexual, or transitioned) which equates to approximately 71,400 people as of 2017. Collectively, that means that over 1.15 million Canadians identify other than heterosexual or cis, but it is also important to note that the surveys only included people identifying as homosexual, bisexual, or trans, and did not include labels such as non-binary, pansexual, asexual, and so on.
LGBTQ+ and Violent Victimization
Unfortunately, as people become more comfortable coming out to society and the general public (non LGBTQ+) are becoming more aware of their existence, people who identify as LGBTQ+ have become targets of violent victimization.
For every 1000 heterosexual Canadians that were surveyed, 69 reported being a victim of violence including, but not limited to, sexual and/or physical assault, or robbery. This number increases to 142 for people who identify as lesbian or gay, and 267 for people with a bisexual orientation. The survey found that bisexual women were the most at risk, stating that they were seven times more likely to be a victim of sexual assault than heterosexual women. These elevated numbers can be explained partially by the queer-phobia that a lot of people have towards the LGBTQ+ community, however, especially in the case of bisexual women, some victimization is due to misconceptions about the LGBTQ+ community. There is a misconceptions that people who identify as bisexual have more sexual partners in their lifetime and are ready to have sex with anyone at anytime, in other words they are being hypersexualized. In addition, the number of women who have been a victim of sexual assault or rape is exponential when looking at the number of men who are victim to these crimes. These two facts in combination are extremely harmful to bisexual women and put them at a higher risk of experiencing violence.
Unfortunately, there is a worry in the LGBTQ+ community of experiencing re-victimization when reporting these violent incidents. As a result, the rate of self-reported violent victimization has decreased significantly over the years.
From 2009 to 2014, the rate of self-reported violent victimization dropped by 67% for people who identify as lesbian or gay, but dropped only by 30% for heterosexual individuals. For some LGBTQ+ individuals, self-reporting to the authorities would require outing themselves, and in some situations this could be putting the individuals in unsafe situations. Some examples include being evicted from their home, losing their job, re-victimization because people now know their sexual orientation, and so on.
LGBTQ+ and Mental Health
As the questions surrounding this debate is whether LGBTQ+ should be implemented into the school curriculum, we must consider how LGBTQ+ students are affected by simply identifying as LGBTQ+ .
In general, students who identify as LGBTQ+ have higher rates of the following:
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
- Phobic disorders
- Suicidal ideation and behaviour
- Substance Abuse
In addition, students identifying as LGBTQ+ are also at twice the risk to develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) than their heterosexual peers.
LGBTQ+ and Suicide
Disclaimer: Yearly there is an average of 500 Canadian youth between the ages of 10-24 that commit suicide. There is no way of knowing what number of these youth identify as LGBTQ+, are struggling with their sexuality or gender identity. However, research has proven that suicidal ideation and behaviour are much more prevalent among LGBTQ+ youth compared to their non-LGBTQ+ peers.
Approximately 1 in 3 LGBTQ+ youth have attempted suicide at least once in their life (between the age of 10-24) compared to only 7% of youth.
47% of males and 73% of females have experienced suicidal ideation.
LGBTQ+ youth who are rejected by family, friends, etc. are over 8 times more likely to attempt suicide.
An Ontario survey of Trans individuals found that 77% had serious suicidal ideation, and 45% had attempted suicide. Trans youth who have experienced physical or sexual assault are at an even greater risk of suicide.
LGBTQ+ and School
Bullying is not new topic when it comes to students in the school community, however LGBTQ+ students are at a greater risk of victimization in their schools communities.
20% of LGBTQ+ students have reported being physically harassed or assaulted.
68% of trans students, 55% of lesbian/bisexual (female) students, and 42% of gay/bisexual (male) students have reported being verbally harassed. A 2011 Canadian research survey reported that 70% of students heard the phrase “That’s so gay” at least once per day in their school, and 48% heard the words “faggot” and “dyke”.
49% of trans students, 33% of lesbian students, and 40% of gay male students had experienced sexual harassment in their school within the last year.
21% of lGBTQ+ students at the time were being physically harassed or assaulted because of their sexual orientation.
This survey also reported that 64% of LGBTQ+ students and 61% of students with LGBTQ+ parents reported feeling unsafe in schools. But studies have shown that these students feel safe and more accepted when their schools have policies and procedures in place that out-right address homophobia.
When these policies are in place, there are fewer incidences of harassment that were reported, and the students said that they felt more respected in their school communities. Research has also shown that schools that have gay-straight alliances (GSAs) are much safer for LGBTQ+ students, and these students were more likely to say that their school was supportive of LGBTQ+ people.