Canadian laws and policies make life in Canada easier for gays and lesbians than it is south of the border. That’s what Prof. David Rayside of political science and sexual diversity studies has learned while researching his upcoming book, Queer Inclusions, Continental Divisions (U of T Press, 2004).
“The big picture is that Canada has moved so much further ahead of the United States,” says Rayside, who compares the countries’ policies regarding three key issues: relationship recognition (in family law, workplace benefits and marriage), parenting (for example, adoption rights) and schooling (including anti-harassment programs).
While Canada is ahead on the first two counts, it lags behind in schooling. “There’s been more willingness among parents and students in the U.S. to challenge schools that turn a blind eye to anti-gay bullying, for example, and many have won large settlements in court,” he says.
Rayside is also mindful that public policy only goes so far. “It’s not that schools on either side of the border have done more than a fraction of what they should do. On all these issues, it’s one thing to improve law and policy, but quite another to see change in people’s everyday lives.”