New poll suggests more LGBT people, but bullying still a problem

Over a decade after gay marriage became legal in Canada, the country's first major poll of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people says bullying and discrimination is still a problem. 

The poll suggested that three-quarters of LGBT Canadians have experienced bullying related to their identity, and 81 per cent have felt "distressed, loneliness, isolation or discouragement". 

School (60 per cent) and work (33 per cent) were the most common places for such bullying.

On top of that, over half of the poll's respondents (54 per cent) said they remained in the closet around work colleagues, due to fears of discrimination. 

And not all Canadians are comfortable around LGBT people - about 52 per cent said they were "very comfortable" around gay and bisexual people, and just 27 per cent were very comfortable with transgender individuals.

Most LGBT people said more support services and resources are needed - the most popular suggestion was for sex education courses in schools to include LGBT people. 

Anti-bullying foundation Jasmin Roy commissioned the poll, and the organization's founder Jasmin Roy said he agreed with that, but also that showing LGBT people more in the media would help them integrate into society. 

"I've never seen a gay or trans First Nations person on a TV series in Quebec or in Canada. So it's time to put diversity on TV and in the media."

The poll suggested that around 13 per cent of Canada's population is LGBT - much higher than estimates from Statistics Canada (the Canadian census does not record information about sexual identity). 

It also suggests that younger LGBT people feel more comfortable and experience fewer problems, according to pollster Alain Giguere.

"The whole process of accepting, expressing and living these alternative gender and sexual identities is much easier the younger you are."

"This social mould in which we had to live in the past is cracking, it's evaporating. Now more and more people live according to how they feel they should live, and not according to how society expects them to live."

Giguere also said this means governments and major organizations in the country might need to adapt to a more diverse society.

"We have to accept that more and more we'll live in a society with people of different religions, different ethnic backgrounds, different gender identities. I think it sends a message to our institutions to make sure this diversity is accepted, and there's no discrimination."

The study also singled out Quebecers - around 70 per cent of people in this province have contact with LGBT people, compared to just 50 per cent in the rest of Canada.