Today, May 17, is the International Day Against Homophobia. Having learned from my friend Deirdre Pike, however, let’s call it the International Day Against Phobia of our LGBTTTIQQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Transsexual, Two-spirit, Intersex, Queer, Questioning…or for those of you who only see the world in 140 characters bytes: LGBTQ) communities.
Despite real breakthroughs in the LGBTQ rights movement, homophobia remains all too prevalent today. Clearly one incident is too many…but even with progress to date, the stats are alarming. A meta-analysis of 25 international studies shows: 4 times risk of suicide attempt in LGB people; 1.5 times risk of depression or anxiety disorder in LGB people, 3 times greater risk of substance use disorder in lesbian / bisexual women, and 2 times greater risk of depression and panic disorder in gay / bisexual men (King et al, 2008).
For LGBTQ youth, the story is not any prettier. According to Egale Canada (2011) more than 40% of LGBTQ students report having experienced sexual harassment in school in the last year; 75% of LGBTQ students and 95% of trans students feel unsafe at school (compared to 20% of heterosexual students) and approximately 28% of LGBTQ youth drop out of high school because of discomfort or fear in the school environment.
A vibrant, inclusive Hamilton is one where every member of our community can live, work and play free from harassment, discrimination and bigotry. And Hamilton is on its way. Local organizations such as http://www.thewellhamilton.ca and http://hamiltonpride.org are wonderful resources to our entire community. Both Hamilton Police Services and the City of Hamilton have established committees that seek to reduce barriers to the LGBTQ community.
But there is much work that remains to be done. HCF is a proud supporter of International day Against Homophobia and encourages you to learn more at http://www.homophobiaday.org/.