UPDATE: The LGBTQ2S Toolkit is now live. Please click here to visit the site.
Spaces for youth are not always positive spaces for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, transsexual, queer, questioning, and Two Spirited (LGBTQ2S) youth. Many LGBTQ2S youth do not feel safe in the shelter system as they experience homophobia and transphobia in shelters and drop-in centres. Of these youth, Two Spirited aboriginal and trans youth are most at risk of homelessness, suicide and addiction.
Research and the youth we work with are telling us that LGBTQ2S youth are in need of improved services and programs that address and support their needs. In Canada there are no specialized shelters for homeless LGBTQ2S youth and there are few programs designed to respond to the unique needs of LGBTQ2S youth (especially outside of major urban centres).
Youth-serving organizations need additional resources and training to better support youth who identify as LGBTQ2S. Organizations are underfunded and under-resourced and do not have the capacity to develop programs, policy and procedures and tools. There is a lack of accessible training to better support LGBTQ2S youth. Further organizations are working in isolation and lack networks they can access for resources.
Make It Better Now
Eva’s Initiatives with our national partners in the National Learning Community on Youth Homelessness are designing a national online Toolkit that staff working with homeless and at-risk youth can access for training to better support LGBTQ2S youth. The Toolkit will also showcase emerging and promising practices that support LGBTQ2S youth living in urban and suburban communities with a goal of developing strategies that would work in northern and remote communities.
The objectives of the Toolkit are:
- Online training resources for staff
- Promising practices inventory for working with LGBTQ2S youth
- The beginning of a national response to the over-representation of LGBTQ2S youth in the youth homelessness population based on community input/involvement and cultural programming and transitional knowledge sustainability
- Improved experiences of LGBTQ2S youth accessing the programs of participating organizations
This Toolkit project requires the voice of LGBTQ2S youth. We need to hear from LGBTQ2S youth about what barriers they are facing to services, what their experiences are with service delivery organizations. The National Learning Community on Youth Homelessness gives us a substantial sample for conducting focus groups in Learning Community communities. The focus groups will be scenario based, as LGBTQ2S youth know how organizations can better support them. The data from the focus groups will help us to develop criteria for reviewing program models and tools to ensure we are being LGBTQ2S inclusive. We are currently planning youth focus groups to hear from youth on how service providers can improve how we work with LGBTQ2S youth to better support them.
We will be launching the Toolkit this winter with a webinar.
For more information on this project please contact:
Program Officer, National Initiatives