On October 18, 2022, Statistics Canada released a study bringing attention to the vast amount of bullying that sexually and gender diverse youths face. The study focused on Canadian youths aged 15 to 17 who are attracted to the same gender, or who identify as transgender or non-binary, and explored the rates of verbal, cyber, and physical bullying.
The study found that youth identifying as gender and sexual minorities experience anywhere from four to 10 per cent more bullying than their non-sexually and gender diverse counterparts. Specifically, 2SLGBTQI+ youths experience four per cent more cyber bullying, which includes being threatened or insulted on social media or over text. According to the study, they also experience 10 per cent more verbal bullying, such as being insulted, mocked, and name called.
The higher bullying rate comes with a higher risk of “poor mental health,” having suicidal thoughts, and missing out on school. 33 per cent of Canadian 2SLGBTQI+ students who are bullied experienced deteriorated mental health, compared to 16 per cent for their non-2SLGBTQI+ counterparts. These statistics point out the extreme effect that bullying has on youths’ perceptions of themselves and of life.
On October 24, 2022, Statistics Canada released a video recording of its “Seeing Everyone: Gender Diversity Data” panel. The panel included stories and interpretations of the Statistics Canada 2021 census, outlining the difficulties, inequalities, and lack of representation faced by sexually and gender peoples.
As the panel continues, Dominique Beaulieu Prévost, a professor at the Université du Québec à Montréal, notes that with the increasing number of sexually and gender diverse youths comes a need for society to take more social responsibility. “The more we hear about gender diversity, the more it becomes something that we see as socially relevant. [It becomes] something that can be a social issue, that can be a public issue, that can be an issue of public health,” states Prévost.
Anu Radha Verma, “a research manager at a community-based research centre,” expresses that awareness, care, and understanding is required when speaking on transphobia. Verma notes that when transphobic rhetoric is revealed publicly, both online and in-person, it may actually become more challenging to speak openly about trans and non-binary youth. This is one of multiple issues that serve as an obstacle to eliminating trans youth stigma.
As the panel discusses the importance of seeing diverse gender representation in surveys, Verma states that “the data is really helpful for us to be able to advocate for increased resources including services and programs that are dedicated to supporting trans and non-binary individuals and communities as well as broader 2SLGBTQI+ community resources.”
As both the Statistics Canada study and the 2021 census reveal, Canadian youths are experiencing stigma, transphobia, and a lack of care from non-sexually diverse peers. Alongside the stories and statistics shared in the panel, the speakers explicitly call for continued support of sexually and gender diverse communities, with the end goal of creating a better Canada for such individuals.