LGBTQ2S stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Transsexual, Queer, Questioning, and Two-Spirit
LGBTQ2S TOOLKIT INTRODUCTION VIDEO
MAKING IT BETTER NOW
The tagline selected for this project is “Making it better now for LGBTQ2S youth experiencing homelessness”.
What does this mean?
The young people with whom we work, as well as research, has been consistently telling us that as a sector and as a community we need to improve the experiences of LGBTQ2S youth experiencing homelessness. As a community, we know that homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia are prevalent in our systems: families, education, health care, faith, employment, justice, to mention only a handful.
The goal of this Toolkit is help staff and organizations become better allies of LGBTQ2S youth. In order to do this, we need to create welcoming and affirming spaces for LGBTQ2S youth. Before we can create welcoming and affirming spaces we need to understand the current context of what our spaces are like for LGBTQ2S youth. Following this, we need to ask young people how our processes need to be revised to make our spaces safe, comfortable, supportive, and respective for youth. Staff need accessible training to improve our practice. Organizations need access to tools that will assist with the development of policies, forms, signage, etc. With this foundation of knowledge, training, and resources; we can become better allies for LGBTQ2S youth experiencing homelessness.
LGBTQ2S YOUTH AND HOMELESSNESS
- Approximately 20% of all homeless people in Canada are between the ages of 13 and 25. This means that over the course of the year there are close to 50,000 young people who experience homelessness.
- On any given night in Canada, there are over 6,000 young people who experience homelessness and either sleep out of doors or access emergency shelters. An even greater number are part of the hidden homeless population and ‘couch surf’ by temporarily staying with family or friends.
- The 2015 National Youth Survey found that 29% of youth surveyed identified as LGBTQ2S.
- 3% of youth in the National Youth Survey identify as transgender (the general public has a 0.3% rate).
We know spaces for youth are not always positive spaces for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, transsexual, queer, questioning, and Two Spirit (LGBTQ2S) youth. Many LGBTQ2S youth do not feel safe in the shelter system as they experience homophobia, biphobia and transphobia in shelters and drop-in centres (Abramovich, 2014; O’Brien, Travers, Bell, 1993; Dunne et al., 2002). Of these youth, Two Spirit, Aboriginal and trans youth are most at risk of homelessness, suicide and addiction.
Creating Welcoming Spaces
The need to belong and to have a sense of community is critical. The concept of social exclusion is one of the twelve Social Determinants of Health in Canada (Raphael, 2009). Youth experiencing homelessness often endure social exclusion and for LGBTQ2S youth experiencing homeless their social exclusion is even greater due to homophobia, biphobia and transphobia. In many communities young people do not feel “safe” to be out as LGBTQ2S and that they don’t feel welcome in many spaces (if any). This Toolkit has been designed to assist staff and organizations work through the processes of becoming welcoming spaces for LGBTQ2S young people experiencing homelessness.
When youth are truly engaged in the programs and services of the organizations that are working to support them, they are far more willing and able to participate, learn and grow and find the programs more interesting and relevant. They develop resiliency, are less susceptible to negative influences, and feel empowered to move forward in a constructive way (National Learning Community on Youth Homelessness, 2009: 2).
The module is an overview of the youth focus group. Please see Youth Focus Groups Report for full details. For this project, we needed to ensure that we engaged LGBTQ2S youth experiencing homelessness in the design of the Toolkit. This section outlines our method for engaging young people and their insights into what they need from us to better support them when they access our services and programs.
This training section of the Toolkit is where we get to discuss the key issues affecting how LGBTQ2S youth interact with their environments and how their environments interact with them. We are using environment in a very broad and open way. Environment includes other people (family, friends, peer groups, adults etc), social institutions (justice system, health care, children welfare, etc.), cultural norms (heteronormativity and cisnormativity), physical space and everything else in between. The modules and scenarios are organized in a way that makes sense to us, the designers of the Toolkit. As you are aware each page on the Toolkit ends with links to the previous and the next section. This is to guide you through the Toolkit. This structure may not work for you and your learning style. If this is the case for you, please use this page as your guide (think of it as a choose your own adventure approach to working through the modules). Modules and scenarios listed on this page has a hyperlink to take you directly to that module or scenario. Please click on the topic you want to learn more about.
For this Toolkit we have curated tools to help organizations better support LGBTQ2S youth. You can adapt these to fit your local needs.
Being an Ally
An ally is an individual who speaks out and stands up for a person or group that is targeted and discriminated against. An ally works to end oppression by supporting and advocating for people who are stigmatized, discriminated against or treated unfairly (GLSEN, 2013: 5)
Allies are critical in helping and supporting LGBTQ2S youth. Allies act as a bridge in the conversations needed to increase awareness and acceptance on LGBTQ2S issues. Allies also show the LGBTQ2S community that they are not alone in the struggle for equality. Being an ally means speaking up and taking action when you witness a homophobic, biphobic or transphobic incident.