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1% of Toronto High School student now identify as gay or lesbian
by Michael F. Paré, Outexpressions, Wednesday
November 28, 2007 - The Toronto District School Board did a $750,000 survey
called the 2006 STUDENT CENSUS, GRADES 7-12: SYSTEM OVERVIEW, asking Toronto
students to among other things self-identify their sexual orientation. Ontario
students were asked to provide voluntary information on a variety of questions—for
students in grades nine to twelve, those questions will include whether they
identify as straight, gay, “lesbian, transgendered, bisexual, queer or
two-spirited (an aboriginal term).” The survey was released yesterday
Only 1% of students identified themselves as gay or lesbian, 2% as bisexual,
4% as questioning and 1% as other. Other included queer, two-spirited, transgendered,
transsexual or any combination of the other choices.
Experts in the field of children's mental health have suggested the trend in
schools toward determining child sexual orientation is dangerously misplaced.
George A. Rekers, Ph. D., research director for child and adolescent psychiatry
at the University of South Carolina School of Medicine, stated that children
are particularly vulnerable to confusion in the development of their sexual
The survey was produced after concerns were raised over possibilities of racial
inequality under Ontario’s new Safe Schools Act, with the suggestion that
some schools expelled black students more frequently than white students.
The original content was expanded to more than 55 questions covering a wide
variety of areas of student interests, in order to provide a census of the province’s
student body. Sexual orientation was considered a legitimate area of interest
by the Board.
The survey also highlights the fact a large majority of students come from families
of first generation Canadians. Around 70% of students from Grades 7 to 12 have
both parents who were born outside of Canada. The main regions of origin are
East Asia, South Asia, Europe, Africa, Caribbean and south and central America.
White students remain the largest ethnic group, making up about 30% of the
high school population. Among students in Grades 7 and 8, 64 per cent report
that they "enjoy" school, while just 53 per cent of high school students
But more than 80 per cent of students say they get along well with fellow
pupils and believe they are treated well by adults in their school. And
more than 90 per cent of students in Grades 7 and 8 feel safe in the classroom,
and 72 per cent on school property. Those numbers dip slightly for high
Toronto schools have seen their share of violent incidents in recent months,
including the fatal shooting of a student at one north-end high school
and sexual assault charges laid against eight youths at a middle school.
In terms of bullying, 41 per cent of younger students and 31 per cent
of secondary students say they are called names or insulted often or sometimes.
About 20 per cent of younger students have been the victims of theft or
threats of violence. Full Report PDF Format http://www3.thestar.com/static/PDF/2006studentcensus_overview.pdf
Leading by Example on World AIDS Day
Outexpressions: by Stephen J. Fallon, Ph.D. - There’s something sort
of overwhelming about World AIDS Day, December 1st. How can any of us
wrap our minds around a disease that infects 4 million people worldwide each
year, and threatens the health of 47 million— mostly untreated—who
are living with the virus today, according to the Joint United Nations Program
The theme for World AIDS Day 2007 is “Leadership.” Yet the average
gay American does not have the means to make a significant contribution to the
fight against HIV/AIDS in sub Saharan Africa, or the Caribbean.
HIV/AIDS also impacts our own communities here at home. A recent Centers for
Disease Control study found that one-in-five gay or bisexual white men in major
cities is living with HIV; among minority men who have sex with men, nearly
half were infected.
What can you do to make a difference? Think globally but act locally. World
AIDS Day Global Steering Committee member Linda Hartke said, “Leadership
can imply the power and authority to make a difference, to lead by action and
example.” Here are some actions you can take to make a difference here
If you’re HIV negative:
Double-check your HIV status with a new HIV test. Three-quarters of younger
gay/bisexual men who were HIV infected had not known their status; and 59 percent
had expected their risk was low, according to another large CDC study.
In many areas, today’s HIV tests come in a simple oral swab that delivers
preliminary results in just 20 minutes.
If you’re living with HIV:
Go to a qualified HIV-specializing physician to track how well your body is
holding the virus at bay. When the time is right to start taking HIV treatments,
don’t skip doses. People who take most of their doses on time are three-to-four
times more likely to keep their virus under control than are inconsistent patients.
Successful treatment also lowers the odds of your passing HIV if a condom ever
Your physician can also talk to you about new classes of treatments (CCR5 antagonists
and integrase inhibitors), along with newer boosted protease inhibitors and
non-nucleosides for those whose virus has developed resistance to these types
If you’re having sex:
Hook ups, real time action, playing, no strings attached fun? You can still
be a leader for World AIDS Day. Last week I gave a seminar at a clinic in Kentucky.
One of the participants described how he and his partner had visited a bathhouse
in Ft. Lauderdale on a vacation. A group of guys were lined up in the steam
room for anonymous sex when one called out, “Hey, does anyone have any
That comment stuck with him enough for him to repeat the story these years later.
And maybe it made a difference to any guys there that day who might have been
planning to have unprotected sex in the bathhouse that day.
Lead by busting myths:
A new study of younger African American men who have sex with men found that
nearly one-third of the times that guys used condoms, they had made mistakes
that could have allowed HIV to transmit. The most common mistakes were putting
the condom on too late (after first entering someone during foreplay), taking
it off too soon, or not pinching air out of the tip of the condom.
These mistakes are common for all races and ages of gay and bisexual men according
to the larger POLARIS HIV seroconversion study. Up to 12 percent of men had
bottomed without having their partners use condoms, or when condom were used
Despite leading the way for better access to care, fairer laws, and more aggressive
research to combat HIV/AIDS, the gay community still harbors many myths that
lead guys to perceive their own risks to be lower than they are. In the POLARIS
study, some of the guys said that they skipped condoms because they believed
HIV can’t transmit through pre-cum, or that HIV can only get in when there’s
HIV has been found in two-thirds of samples of pre-cum drawn from HIV positive
men. Meanwhile, the epithelial lining of the rectum can absorb the virus even
without any trauma present.
So for this World AIDS Day, you can be a leader by debunking myths and adopting
safer habits to stop HIV’s spread through our gay community, or to control
HIV in your own body.
Stephen Fallon is the President of Skills4, Inc., a healthcare and
disease-prevention consulting firm that specializes in gay lifestyle and health
issues by providing treatment education workshops, prevention programming assistance,
and grant writing services to community organizations and health departments.
Visit his website at www.skills4.org If
you need sources for any medical information cited in his columns, e-mail him