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Supporting Youth Experiencing Homelessness in the LGBTQ2S+ Community

Written by: Lauren Anderson

Edited by: Jacqueline Cheung


Dear CCP readers,


Welcome back to the CCP blog! For today’s blog post, we will be sharing ways to support youth experiencing homelessness in the LGBTQ2S+ community. As a non-profit organization dedicated to raising awareness on matters relating to homelessness and providing support to youth, we believe it is important to highlight the unique struggles that youth in the LGBTQ2S+ community face and how our societal structure creates barriers for certain populations.

Let’s begin with defining LGBTQ2S+. In Canada, we use the acronym LGBTQ2S+ to refer to individuals who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer/questioning, two-spirit, and other sexual and gender minority identities. For more helpful information, and a full glossary of terms used within the community, click here.


If you would like to learn more information regarding the current state of homelessness in Canada and the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA), welcome! If you are returning for more information about the particular challenges faced by youth experiencing homelessness and those with animal companions, welcome back! If you are new to our blog, welcome to the community, and thank you for your interest in learning more about issues regarding the homelessness crisis in Canada and beyond - you are one step closer to becoming a changemaker in your community, and you are in great company.


Unique causes for homelessness


Youth who identify as LGBTQ2S+ are at higher risk of experiencing homelessness, to begin with, but they can also experience disproportionate challenges while unhoused, that may not be experienced by their peers. Homelessness can disproportionately affect members of the LGBTQ2S+ community due to various reasons. Some reasons include:


Discrimination


Youth in the LGBTQ2S+ may face discrimination and prejudice in various housing

youth- leading to further housing instability and a lack of understanding within the

community. There is still a large amount of discrimination against the LGBTQ2S+

community and the outcomes of this outright discrimination are dangerous and

unfortunately, prescribe treatment of individuals in some environments.


Family rejection


Family rejection is one of the chief causes of LGBTQ2S+ youth facing homelessness.

This is especially seen in people from historically marginalized ethnic groups, which

is an intersectional challenge. Unfortunately, many teens and young adults are kicked

out of their family homes after coming out. This lack of acceptance creates an

emotional/mental toll on youth as well.


Mental health


As aforementioned, youth in the LGBTQ2S+ community are at risk of mental health

issues due to both discrimination issues and the stress and trauma of homelessness.

This elevated risk for mental health issues is overall caused by the social

determinants of health. If you would like to learn more about the social determinants

of health, read here.


Increased risk of violence


Members of the LGBTQ2S+ experience discrimination and injustice that lead to

them becoming at risk of increased violence and/or hate crimes. LGBTQ2S+

individuals are 4x more likely to experience violence in their lives in comparison to

their straight peers. They also experience a higher rate of police brutality. Inclusive programs and shelters are crucial for providing safe and secure housing for youth in need. It is also important that we continue allyship with members of the LGBTQ2S+ community and educate others about the unique challenges they face to boost awareness of these issues. Violence and hate crimes should not be as socially acceptable as they are becoming. We must protect each other within our community.


Statistics


We must provide statistics that reflect the dire need for education, change, and support for youth in the LGBTQ2S+ facing homelessness. 25 to 45 percent of homeless youth in Canada identify as LGBTQ2S+, which is a majority of the population of youth experiencing homelessness. Youth identifying as LGTBQ2S+ are underrepresented in the general population, although they are overrepresented within the homeless population. 21 percent of youth in Toronto shelters identify as LGBTQ2S+, signifying the necessity of understanding the unique challenges experienced by this community.


How to support LGBTQ2S+ youth facing or experiencing homelessness


There are many ways to show up and demonstrate support for youth facing homelessness in the LGBTQ2S+ community. This includes:

  • Providing resources and/or shelter for those in need.

  • Being an ally and creating a safe and welcoming environment.

  • Educating and advocating on matters relating to homelessness experienced in the LGBTQ2S+ community.

  • Donating to local LGBTQ2S+ shelters and/or organizations.

  • Having meaningful conversations with your friends and families (especially parents with kids) on supporting friends and family who identify as LGBTQ2S+.

These are some actionable items that can demonstrate allyship with members of the LGBTQ2S+ community and hopefully help create forward-focused progress on the state of homelessness as well.


Finding support as a youth identifying as LGBTQ2S+


If you are a youth who identifies as LGBTQ2S+, we have also included a list of local programs that provide support and resources for those facing homelessness, discrimination, or mental health issues.


Toronto Programs for Youth


General Services

Help with Transitions

Meals

Mental and Physical Health

Educational Programs

Employment Programs

Our CCP team hopes that you found this blog post both informational and resourceful. We hope to continue this important conversation and we hope that you do too! Our goal at the CCP is to better the well-being of people facing homelessness. If you would like to join our team or support us on our mission, please contact us! Thank you for reading our blog! Feel free to leave a comment with your feedback and/or insights to help us enrich the quality of future posts and cater to the interests of our community of changemakers.


- The CCP Team


Sources


CAMH. (n.d.). Rainbow Services (LGBTQ). Retrieved April 25, 2023, from https://www.camh.ca/en/health-info/mental-health-and-covid-19/rainbow-services-lgbtq



Central Toronto Youth Services. (n.d.). Resources. Retrieved April 25, 2023, from https://ctys.org/resources/



Covenant House Toronto. (n.d.). LGBTQ+ Youth & Gay Homeless Shelter. Retrieved April 25, 2023, from https://covenanthousetoronto.ca/homeless-youth/our-services/lgbtq-youth



Homelessness Hub. (2017). Infographic: Homeless LGBTQ Youth. Retrieved April 25, 2023, from https://www.homelesshub.ca/resource/infographic-homeless-lgbtq-youth



Loft Kitchen Social Enterprise - Christie Ossington Neighbourhood Centre. (n.d.). Retrieved April 25, 2023, from https://conccommunity.org/loft-kitchen/



National Sexual Violence Resource Center. (n.d.). Fact Sheet on Injustice in the LGBTQ Community. Retrieved April 25, 2023, from https://www.nsvrc.org/blogs/fact-sheet-injustice-lgbtq-community



Pflag Toronto. (n.d.). LGBTQ2S+. Retrieved April 25, 2023, from https://torontopflag.org/lgbtq2s/



Pflag Toronto. (n.d.). Programs for Youth. Retrieved April 25, 2023, from https://torontopflag.org/programs-for-youth/



SOY Toronto. (n.d.). About. Retrieved April 25, 2023, from https://soytoronto.com/about/



Start Me Up Niagara. (2021, October 28). Understanding LGBTQ2S Youth Homelessness in Canada - News & Updates. Retrieved April 25, 2023, from https://www.startmeupniagara.ca/blog/understanding-lgbtq2s-youth-homelessness-in-canada-news-updates



The 519. (n.d.). Home. Retrieved April 25, 2023, from https://www.the519.org/



Triangle Program. (n.d.). Retrieved April 25, 2023, from https://triangleprogram.ca/



YMCA of Greater Toronto. (n.d.). Youth Housing. Retrieved April 25, 2023, from https://ymcagta.org/find-a-y/central-toronto-youth-services/youth-housing



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