A documentary and study by a UOIT professor who also works as a hate crime expert with Egale Canada has revealed that 64 per cent of LGBTQ students feel unsafe at school.
Barbara Perry, associate dean of Social Sciences and Humanities at UOIT, teaches in the field of diversity.
She was inspired when she found this was the only category of hate crime in which statistics were going up, not down.
Pride Durham president, Mike May says without the police-reported hate crimes, the LGBTQ community will not get the proper attention that is needed.
In Durham Region, organizations exist to support victims of hate crimes. Pride Durham, PFLAG (Parents, Friends of Lesbians and Gays) and Pride Line are examples.
May says it is important for people to report hate crimes to the police.
“Without the statistics, there isn’t the justification for the funding to cope with it,” says May.
Perry is also the education director of PFLAG Durham Region and works with Egale Canada, an organization that defends the rights of LGBTQ people.
Durham College student, Jessica Wright, says she was a victim of a homophobic attack in 2009 for being involved with her high school’s Gay-Straight Alliance.
Wright was attacked from behind and kicked to the ground by three people wearing masks.
“I was so scared. I didn’t tell anyone, when I went to the hospital I told them I fell,” says Wright. “I didn’t even tell my parents.”
Chair of Durham College’s Pride committee, Mikki Decker, says she has trouble understanding arguments about the LGBT community stemming from religious backgrounds.
“The struggle that I have with these arguments is that I can hear the exact same thing from every single person that’s from a highly Christian background or from a background that doesn’t believe in gay marriage or gay rights, and it’s the same argument, the same words,” says Decker.
Lindsey Guthrie and Deanna Rose, a gay couple and DC students, say the school is a safe gay-friendly place. Both say there should be more advertising about the LGBT centre. Guthrie says if it was not for accompanying her friend to the Simcoe Building one day she would have never heard of the centre or pride committee.
“I’m totally OK if people don’t accept it or are not OK with it. That being said, it’s changing,” says Decker.