2 min

Out young gays bashed more

Groundbreaking study: First Nation gay youth most at risk

A new report on gaybashing in Vancouver indicates the need for improved safety measures for queer youth both in and out of the classroom.

And, indicates the new study from the Vanguard Project, native gay men who come out at an early age are at most risk of being bashed.

Men generally who came out before the age of 17 were at significantly higher risk for having been bashed prior to entering the study.

And, by three years into the study, 16.4 percent of the men in the 18-23 year-old age bracket had been bashed, a rate five times higher than that observed among men 29 and older.

“There’s clearly a pattern of risk that supports the call that people have been making for improved safety of sexual minority youth in schools and the community,” says medical researcher Dr Tom Lampinen.

“The youngest men are at greatest risk and aboriginal men are at the greatest risk,” he says. “Those are new findings.”

Among all men enrolled in the study, 2.6 percent reported being bashed each year.

The findings on youth suggest a different tack than that taken by the provincial government’s Safe Schools Task Force chaired by gay Vancouver-Burrard MLA Lorne Mayencourt.

Released last year, the Safe Schools report recommended light action in the classroom with general recommendations rather than direct action on dealing with the plight of queer youth.

Lampinen says it’s not up to the project to comment on the political ramifications of his research results. “Our data is to inform those discussions.” But, he adds, “I bring them the information that suggests directions to take.”

Mayencourt did not return repeated calls from Xtra West.

Coincidentally, Statistics Canada released a report May 31 indicating that just over 10 per cent of reported hate crimes in Canada were directed at sexual minorities.

Of 958 hate crimes reported across Canada, 90 involved gays, lesbians or bisexuals. The highest incidences were against Jews (229) followed by blacks (156) and then Muslims (102).

“Individuals targeted because of their sexual orientation were more likely than other hate crime victims to suffer violent crimes,” notes the Statistics Canada report. “Approximately 46 percent of gay and lesbian victims of hate crime were injured as a result of the incident, almost twice the proportion of 25 percent among hate crime victims in general.”

Lampinen’s results came from one question among many in the Vanguard Project, an ongoing tracking study of HIV incidence and risk behaviours started in 1995.