Anti-homophobia programs in focus

Published: February 21, 2012

It gets better – and researchers want to know why.

The University of B.C. announced Monday a new $2-million study about the effectiveness of anti-homophobia programs.

Funded by the federal Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the five-year study examines if and how school and community programs work to reduce homophobic bullying of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and straight youth.

“Schools and communities are using a lot of different strategies to try and change this, but very few of these strategies have been evaluated to see not only if they work, and how well they work, but why they work,” said UBC professor Elizabeth Saewyc, the study’s lead investigator.

A key aspect of the study, she points out, is it includes instances of homophobic bullying against heterosexual youth.

“Homophobia can affect anyone,” Saewyc explained, adding many youth are targeted for anti-gay harassment despite being straight.

Vancouver School Board chairwoman Patti Bacchus said the results could help improve current programs in place.

“The more that we can understand about the impacts of all forms of bullying is important – especially homophobic bullying,” Bacchus said. “The more we understand about what’s effective and what’s not effective, if we have gaps, we need to know that.”

The VSB currently employs a part-time anti-bullying mentor and teacher who provides support and resources, as well as the Out in Schools program, which facilitates classroom discussions on bullying and stereotypes.

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