Painting a Picture with Numbers

If you are new to the conversation of sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) you may not be familiar with some of the terms that are used in the conversation. Egale is a Canadian organization seeking to provide understanding and awareness about SOGI, and it does a pretty good job explaining things. There are certainly other excellent websites as well — but theirs is a good place to start.

I hear commentary on SOGI topics from students, teachers, parents and the broader community — people are either strongly in support of schools bringing awareness and understanding about people who are not cisgender heterosexual, or people are against schools talking about it.

Having a discussion or debate is a great part of our democracy. In fact, I love a good conversation. It’s a wonderful way to better understand issues. You may have noticed that I use my blog to discuss a variety of educational or leadership topics, some that even create commentary. I welcome respectful comments, discussion and dialogue.

However, I do not have time for people who turn a positive and robust conversation into a forum for intolerance or hate — when they seek to dehumanize others through their words or actions. Schools are a place where we champion critical thinking and respectful dialogue, but we also do so within a climate of acceptance, inclusion and equality.

In case you are still wondering where I stand on the topic of sexual orientation and gender identity, let me be clear …

SOGI Supporters Clash with Anti-SOGI Protesters at the BC Legislature (Sept 2018)

I stand with students … with their self-determination, their sense of identity, their dreams, their passions, and their struggles. I have seen the pain of rejection and their sense of isolation when they don’t ‘fit in’. I have heard their loneliness and despair when they are not accepted — when their very being is challenged as if there is something wrong with them.

I stand with students, in all of their wonderful complexities and realities.

I stand in support of schools being allies and advocates for children. I stand in line with the BC Human Rights Code that clearly protects people from discrimination based on their sexual orientation, gender identity or expression. I also stand in support of providing a variety of resources to schools that celebrate the diversity within them.

I stand with protecting the dignity of students.

As much as I stand with students, I am also vocal in my opposition to those who would denigrate them. I stand against bigotry, intolerance and injustice. I stand against those who seek to marginalize, or for that matter dehumanize, others because they may be different in some way.

Standing with someone means doing so even when it is difficult or awkward — when your own values may be challenged by others and when you may be chided for your stance. This is what it means to be an ally and an advocate.

A Rainbow Carpet at the Children’s Development Centre in Saanich

Why do I do this? Because the numbers paint a picture …

8 x

  • Gay teens are 8x more likely to attempt suicide if they feel rejected by their parents than those gay teenagers who are accepted

6 x

  • Gay teens are 6x more likely to report depression if rejected at home


  • 64% of Canadian teenage respondents report hearing homophobic comments at school on a daily or weekly basis


  • 30% of non-binary teenage respondents report being victims of cyberbullying, compared to just 8% of cisgender, heterosexual youth


  • 70% of trans or non-binary youth report being discriminated against

These data paint a disturbing picture of intolerance across Canada. BC is no different. The numbers are a glimpse into the unfortunate world for many youth. At the end of this post you will find links to several BC and Canadian studies where you can find a complete description of recent findings.

One does not have to look far to see daily examples of intolerance. The news reports fill our days with stories of anger and intolerance towards those who are different.

A few recent articles :

On the positive side of things, the research also points to how we can work together to provide a better outcome for youth — in our schools and our communities — how we can ALL become better allies and advocates so that everyone feels heard, respected and valued.

Here are some of their suggestions:

  • Ensure that schools and other public organizations have clear policies and procedures in place that show a commitment to an inclusive and emotionally safe environment.
  • Be visible in your support — things like installing rainbow benches or carpets and participating in activities like Pride Walks
  • Provide training to staff so that they can better support students
  • Ensure there are safe spaces for everyone — things like gender-neutral washrooms
  • Provide a wide variety of teaching resources that reflect student diversity
  • Be a noticeable ally to those who have historically been harassed, bullied or otherwise marginalized.

I am passionate about this topic — and certainly not ‘on-the-fence’. I have no patience for intolerance towards others, especially against those who may already feel marginalized.

It takes courage take a stand — to stand up for the values of respect and acceptance — to be there for those who have been marginalized or harassed.

It takes courage to be an ally. Be an ally anyways.

Some BC and Canadian SOGI Research and Resources:

A Statistical Portrait of Canada’s Diverse LGBTQ2+ Communities (StatsCan, 2021)

BC Adolescent Health Survey (McCreary Centre Society, BC, 2018)

Being Safe, Being Me 2019: Results of the Canadian Trans and Non-binary Youth Health Survey (UBC, 2019)

Ministry of Education and Child Care: SOGI

Parents’ rejection of a child’s sexual orientation fuels mental health problems (APA, 2009)

SOGI 1 2 3: Policies & Procedures; Inclusive Environments; Teaching Resources (ARC Foundation, BC)

Still in Every Class in Every School (Egale, ON) (2021)

2 thoughts on “Painting a Picture with Numbers

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