July 12th, 2023

Building a Nova Scotia that does not include hate

It’s been a difficult year, with a rise in examples of homophobia, transphobia, hatred, threats and acts of violence in our schools.

As such, it does not come as a surprise that students are feeling that stress. According to this year’s Student Success Survey, more than half of 2SLGBTQIA+ students feel like they don’t belong in their school.

This is not the kind of Nova Scotia we want to build for children and young Nova Scotians.

In this year’s report, 42 per cent of 2SLGBTQIA+ students reported feeling unsafe or threatened in the past month. That’s up eight per cent since 2019.

Overall, 23 per cent of students felt unsafe at school; among 2SLGBTQIA+ students, that number was nearly double.

The rise of hate and violence in schools is unacceptable, and the Houston government cannot stand by and not do anything.

We need to make Nova Scotia schools safe places of support for 2SLGBTQIA+ students so our province can address and find solutions for the overrepresentation of 2SLGBTQIA+ young people in care, who are homeless and struggling with finding supportive health-care and employment opportunities.

Earlier this year, we spoke with the minister of education about these issues and pushed to get a firm commitment on how she would use this survey information to improve schools for students.

We also wrote to all our MLA colleagues to encourage them to stand firmly in support of 2SLGBTQIA+ people in their districts and across the province. As elected leaders, we need to stand up directly to hate in our communities, by making public commitments to a Nova Scotia that does not include hate.

Government must move forward on concrete action to ensure the safety and well-being of all students but especially those from vulnerable groups. We previously provided the minister with some suggested actions that could be implemented, such as designating support staff for 2SLGBTQIA+ young people and increasing accountability and followup on issues flagged in student surveys.

As a province, we must condemn the malicious targeting of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community and all acts of hatred, aggression and misinformation directed toward them. As a government, that requires action from the Conservatives, not just words.

- Lisa Lachance, NDP 2SLGBTQIA+ spokesperson and MLA for Halifax Citadel-Sable Island
- Suzy Hansen, NDP education spokesperson and MLA for Halifax Needham