$2M National Study on ‘Making it Better’ for Canadian LGBTQ Youth


A new five-year study led by Prof. Elizabeth Saewyc at the University of British Columbia is being launched to see just how effective school and community programs are in reducing bullying of LGBTQ and straight youth. The study is funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health and Research (CIHR).

This is reportedly the single largest investment aimed at improving health and school outcomes for LGBTQ youth the Canadian administration has undertaken.

The study will involve a number of co-investigators from 10 universities representing a number of Canadian provinces and U.S. states, with input also coming from ministries of education and health, national teacher and public health associations, school districts, and community programs that work with schools.

The study, crucially, will also take into account that there are many straight, gender-conforming children that are also targeted by this kind of bullying.

More from the University of British Columbia press release:

The researchers will document and assess the types of strategies that schools are using to foster connectedness and reduce bullying, and track trends in health and safety among youth. The team will also study the experiences of heterosexual teens who are harassed because people assume they are gay.

“Homophobia can affect anyone,” explains Saewyc. “In any high school, there are far more heterosexual teens than lesbian, gay, bisexual or questioning teens, and because of this, we have found half or more of those targeted for anti-gay harassment actually identify as straight.

“There isn’t much research about them, but what there is suggests they have the same health consequences as LGBTQ youth who are bullied.”

Prof. Joy Johnson, Scientific Director of CIHR’s Institute of Gender and Health stresses that it is essential for CIHR to support this kind of research. “We hope the results of this study will lead to measures that will help to make school a positive experience for sexual minority youth in Canada,” she says.

One of the key focuses will be on examining the strategies schools use to try and combat anti-LGBTQ stigma and to see if they are actually working. Identifying those with positive results, and also identifying which strategies are less successful, has obvious benefits for LGBTQ children and the wider school climate.

The study is funded by CIHR’s Institute of Population and Public Health and Institute of Gender and Health and will continue through 2016.

Canada has seen its own tragedies when it comes to LGBTQ youth suicide. Perhaps most widely reported was the case of Jamie Hubley, the son of an Ottawa Councillor. Jamie’s death prompted even Conservative Members of Parliament and staffers to participate in making an It Gets Better video. Watch that here.

Related Reading:

Does the Criminalization of Polygamy Protect Women and Children?

UPDATE: Toronto Zoo Says It Will Reunite “Gay” Penguins In The Spring

Gay Persian Canadians “Break Silence” with Poster Campaign

Quebec Launches Anti-Bullying Campaign In Wake Of Gay Teen Suicide

Image used under the Morguefile user license, with thanks to taliesin.


Joan Mcallister
5 years ago

As a Canadian I am happy with this announcement, but five years appears to me to be too long a time to have to wait, what happens to all the young LGBTQ youth who are going through a tough time with bullying etc now, and how many younsters will commit sucide during this period, we need some kind of action right now.

Jane H.
Jane H5 years ago

Any work that helps stop bullying of any sort and particularly of gay kids is good. But the very best thing we could do to stop it is give equality and acceptance to gay people. The kids are very knowledgeable about what the culture says. When this point is reached there will be much less bullying about it.

Leslea Herber
Leslea Herber5 years ago

While a study is good, it's too little.

The biggest way to stop the bullying... STOP BLAMING THE VICTIMS.

Between grades 2 and 8, not one week went by without me being severely assaulted. My mistake? I FOUGHT BACK. So of course it was considered "just a playground scuffle". Add to the mix that I do NOT bruise. In 1997 I was in a motorcycle accident that nearly killed me, and even that, I had 2 tiny yellow spots, and no seriously VISIBLE bruising. So all through school, I got blamed for "having a temper" rather than the truth that I was targeted for being different. No bruises, oh the kid must be lying.

The ONLY times I had ANY justice, is when the assailants broke skin. Like when they dragged me through a blackberry bush & half my face was shredded.

All too often the excuse is to blame the victim for somehow instigating things. Or to claim they have a temper, so it's OK. Or to otherwise downplay what in fact is a criminal assault.

Frankly if I had my way, I'd see the bullies CRIMINALLY charged. See how fast that straightens them out!

Elvira W.
Elvira Winkler5 years ago

Instead of pouring money into more research, give the schools the education and tools to prevent bullying!

Bullying exists on all levels, and it always amazes me that the bullies in grade 8 are the same kids who bullied in kindergarten... Nothing is ever done... Do children have to die for bullies to be punished?

Help the victims and help the bullies, they are not born that way but become that way...

J.L. A.
j A5 years ago

Great--sometimes research is what it takes to convince educators and administrators their program needs improvement and isn't doing the needed job

Joe R.
Joe R5 years ago

Good for Canada. Money well spent to determine what works to stop bullying.

Hannah L.
Hannah L.5 years ago


Elsa O.
Elsa O5 years ago