Am I Safe Here?
160 pages, 6 x 9
6 b&w illus., 1 chart
Release Date:15 Oct 2017
Release Date:15 Oct 2017
Release Date:15 Oct 2017
Release Date:15 Oct 2017

Am I Safe Here?

LGBTQ Teens and Bullying in Schools

UBC Press, On Point Press

“Am I safe here?” LGBTQ students ask this question every day within the school system. This book shines a light on the marginalization and bullying faced by LGBTQ youth, offering a new conceptualization of school safety.

Donn Short treats students as the experts on what happens in their schools, giving them a chance to speak for themselves. They identify what it would take to make a school truly safe – insightfully explaining that safety doesn’t come merely from security cameras, ID tags, and dress codes, but from a culture that values equity and social justice. Revealing the reality of going to school in an environment that implicitly (and sometimes explicitly) endorses homophobia, heterosexism, and heteronormativity, the students share their ideas about how to change school culture. They envision a future in which LGBTQ youth are an expected, respected, and celebrated part of school life.

Am I Safe Here? explores what needs to be done to create equitable and inclusive schools – but it is not strictly about formal professional development plans. Rather, it draws from the informal, spontaneous, timely, and relevant words of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered students to show that nothing less than a total culture change is needed.

This book is written for teachers, administrators, pre-service teachers, guidance counsellors, social workers, trustees, parents, and other LGBTQ allies who want to promote student safety and school improvement by creating a safe and inclusive school for LGBTQ students.

Short has done a superb job in centring the voices and experiences of LGBT2Q*+ youth in his necessary and timely guide for educators and school administrators. If you genuinely want to create more inclusive learning environments, Am I Safe Here? has important lessons for you. Brandon Yan, education director, Out on Screen/Out in Schools
Short’s compelling book … argues that there is a pressing need to address systemic overt and covert attitudes, biases, and exclusionary practices that threaten the very identity of LGBTQ students and contribute to their feelings of inequity and isolation … The students’ comments combined with his sound recommendations provide direction for meaningful, sustainable change. Mary Hall, PhD, director of Safe Schools Manitoba
Short’s provocative new book centres on the question, ‘What is school like for you?’ He answers this question in a powerful way by directly foregrounding the voices and experiences of LGBTQ youth. These voices are an important incitement to educators to examine their own teaching practices in an effort to think more broadly about creating equity-seeking schools that don’t just tolerate LGBTQ youth, but affirm and celebrate them. This book is a call to action and a must-read for anyone who cares about LGBTQ youth and how they are treated in our nation’s schools. Kristopher Wells, assistant professor and faculty director, Institute for Sexual Minority Studies and Services, Faculty of Education, University of Alberta
An essential resource for administrators and teachers at both elementary and secondary schools. The systemic approach that calls for cultural change in developing an LGBTQ-positive school setting in all grades and in all spaces surpasses the limiting incident-based reactionary approach. School administrators and teachers now have a meaningful tool to address heterosexism and cisgenderism and to create LGBTQ-inclusive schools for students, teachers, and staff. Nick Mulé, PhD, Founder, Queer Ontario
An important read for folks interested in ending homophobic/transphobic bullying and including LGBTQ students in full citizenship in our school settings. Susan Ruzic, assistant director of social justice, Professional and Social Issues Department, BC Teachers’ Federation
Donn Short is an associate professor of law at Robson Hall, Faculty of Law, at the University of Manitoba. In addition to his scholarship dealing with bullying and safe schools, he has written a number of dramatic works dealing with themes of youth and youth violence. He is the founder of Outlaws, the queer law student association at Robson Hall, and the founding editor-in-chief of the Canadian Journal of Human Rights. Dr. Short is the author of Don’t Be So Gay! and co-author of The Every Teacher Project, published by the Manitoba Teachers’ Society. He is a member of the education committee of Egale Canada Human Rights Trust and was appointed by the Lieutenant-Governor for Manitoba to the Manitoba Human Rights Board of Commissioners.


List of Participants


1 Changing the Culture

2 How Safe Is My School?

3 Homophobia, Heterosexism, and Heteronormativity

4 Rules to Live By, or How to Succeed in School without Really Changing Anything

5 What Now?


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