B.C. government continues to avoid taking specific action to protect LGBT students

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      Unlike some other Canadian provinces, the B.C. government continues to avoid taking action to specifically address homophobia and transphobia in schools.

      During an oral question period in the B.C. Legislature on Pink Shirt Day (February 24), Vancouver-West End MLA Spencer Chandra Herbert asked Minister of Education Mike Bernier about what action the B.C. government will take to protect LGBT students.

      Chandra Herbert pointed out that studies have shown that LGBT students are targeted by bullying at higher rates than other students.

      He cited recommendations from the standing committee for children and youth, which made recommendations for the education minister to "require stand-alone sexual identity and gender identity policies in schools and support for gay-straight alliances".

      Bernier responded that British Columbia is a leader in creating a safer environment for students in schools, regardless of their race, gender, religion, or other identities.

      Chandra Herbert countered by stating that specific violence requires specific response, and that provinces such as Alberta and Ontario have implemented changes to take action.

      Bernier argued that B.C. is a leader in this area, which created a stir in the house. He referred to the province having general measures in place regarding bullying, and thereby downplayed the need for any specific action.

      In addition to what Chandra Herbert stated, antihomophobia and antitransphobia measures also protect straight students, as anyone can become the target of homophobia and transphobia, regardless of their orientation or gender identity.

      UBC studies have found decreased rates of discrimination and suicide, as well as risky behaviour associated with substance abuse, among all students in schools with gay-straight alliances or antihomophobia policies.