Sexual status doesn’t demote one’s value
On Thursday night, the UPEI Rainbow Alliance held its third annual Candlelight Vigil Against Homophobia and Bullying in Charlottetown.
The event drew attention to young people who take their lives as a result of homophobic and other forms of bullying.
In Canada, suicide is the second highest cause of death among people age 10-24, and according to the Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, Lesbian-Gay-Bisexual-Transexual-Queer (LBGTQ) youth are four times more likely to attempt suicide.
Kings County needs to open the discussion on sexuality. The same study from the Journal of Pediatrics said LBGTQ youth living in a social environment more supportive of gays and lesbians were 20 per cent less likely to attempt suicide than LGBTQ youth living in environments that were less supportive.
Kings County can’t afford to assume Lesbian-Gay-Bisexual-Transexual-Queer members know they are open to their presence.
Without knowing how friends or family will react, people can feel alienated and afraid to come out.
Seven out of 64 of my graduating classmates at Souris Regional High School identify themselves as gay or bisexual. That’s 10 per cent. Few came out in high school and when they did, it was usually only to close friends and family.
Jennifer Pellerin, who is from Little Pond and now lives in Summerside with her girlfriend, was amazed by the positive response from family members and friends when she came out after years of hiding her sexuality.
She expected rejection because no one had ever affirmed anything else would happen. Some people leave PEI before identifying as gay in fear of how they’ll be perceived.
Kings County’s children, students, and even adults need to know their sexuality is accepted in PEI or they can’t expect to feel supported and no one certainly could expect them to stay.
Heather Jordan Ross