REFOCUS COLUMN BY GERARD VELDHOVEN
A study was done recently by EGALE, Equality for Gays and Lesbians Everywhere, the only national charity organization for members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community in Canada. The study indicates a disturbing trend that must be dealt with to curb the dramatic increase in hate crimes.
The chilling details of this report mentions that the highest proportion of accused were male, (92 per cent), as well, the highest proportion of accused were under the age of 25, (70 per cent). Victims of sexual orientation motivated hate crimes tend to be younger, with 50 per cent under the age of 25, and the highest proportion male victims at 85 per cent.
EGALE’s executive director, Dr. Helen Kennedy, said, “Every single Minister of Education in this country needs to take these numbers very seriously. Until we implement explicit policies and programs to address homophobia, biphobia and transphobia in every region of Canada, we cannot begin to hope to end the violence, harassment and hate crimes that our LGBT youth have come to accept as a fact of life.”
Added to this dreadful situation is the fact that members of the transgender community, one of the most targeted groups, are not protected under federal law in this country. A transgender bill is before the Senate a second time and must pass.
Dr. Kennedy is correct in her summation. This issue has been discussed many times, but to date, no results. We must see action instead of words. It is a human right to live in peace, acceptance and pride. The education system in all the provinces and territories has the obligation to direct attention to the elimination of these violent crimes by including sexual orientation education in their curriculum in the early grades.
This is an urgent call for action and I cannot overemphasize the importance of early education as part of the solution to curbing this obscene destruction of young lives. Parents also have the obligation to address this issue and teach their offspring that sexual orientation is not an excuse for violence. All of us must get involved so that regardless of sexual orientation, or gender identity, we are all the same somehow. I strongly urge early education be a priority. End this horrendous violent behaviour. For comments and information: firstname.lastname@example.org
Gerard Veldhoven is a longtime activist for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. His column appears Wednesdays in The News.