|Abstract: ||In the past two decades, there has been a significant amount of progress for the LGBTQ+ community in Canada, especially in terms of legal advancements and social acceptance,
“In Canada, rights for queer youth are broadly protected by the Federal and Provincial Human Rights Codes. These rights have been firmly established since 1995 when “sexual orientation” was read into the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms as a protected class as a result of a landmark decision by the Supreme Court of Canada (Egan vs. Canada, 1995)” (Meyer and Stader, 2009, p.3)
Despite these changes, LGBTQ+ people still face many challenges because Gender and sexual diversity are often not discussed as part of the foundational education. The lack of public discussion and experiences of societal stigma and prejudice can leave queer and trans individuals apprehensive about openly discussing their sexuality and gender identity.
The target population for this research project is youth that identify as LGBTQ+. The research project explores their experiences in high school as a sexual and/or gender minority. The objective of the project is to analyze how Gay-Straight Alliances can contribute to an LGBTQ+ student’s experience in high school. The idea for this research project came from personal reflection in the past year. I spent many years questioning my sexuality in silence throughout my teenage years and early adulthood because of the fear of being labeled and having a stigmatized identity. I wondered if I would have been more open about discussing my sexuality if my high school experience had been more inclusive and diverse in terms of sexuality and gender identity. Many of my peers started to disclose their sexual orientation shortly after graduation (in 2010), which makes me question whether it was the high school environment that prevented them from coming out. This research project will provide the opportunity to reflect on my personal journey with sexuality and how it was impacted by the environments that I occupied at the time and by the people I interacted with on a daily basis. I will revisit some of the challenges I faced during that time.
Myths, negative stereotypes and stigma associated with the LGBTQ+ community need to be addressed through more research and education. GSAs aim to help increase awareness and understanding about gender and sexual diversity. I hope to discuss not only the challenges faced by LGBTQ+ students, but also the resilience and courage they have acquired from their journey in high school. I will examine both their individual and collective experiences.
School plays a significant role in the life of an adolescent, as it is where they spend most of their time and form relationships. It is a crucial time when youth are discovering and affirming their identities. The implementation of GSAs is relatively new in Ontario and there is little research on the student experience of GSAs. For this reason, I will be researching LGBTQ+ youth and their high school experiences. The research project will incorporate some of the different actors involved in the maintenance of GSAs, including governmental policies, school staff and the student population.|