LGBTQ2S+ youth experience higher levels of homelessness than their peers. It’s estimated that between 25-40 per cent of youth experiencing homelessness in Canada identify as LGBTQ2S+ compared to 10 per cent of non-homeless youth.
Many sexual and gender diverse youth grow-up in homes with family members that are not accepting, supportive and affirming. Often times, coming out to family leads to homelessness.
Some youth may run away from home because of abuse or discrimination from their family members. Others may be thrown out of their family home.
Where do they go?
Some LGBTQ2S+ youth will end up protective custody but often they will run from those settings too, back to homelessness.
Others will end up couch surfing friends’ houses or living rough on the street, in parks and alleys; places not intended for human habitation. Very few LGBTQ2S+ youth will choose to seek refuge in the shelter system as many youth report discriminations and feeling more vulnerable and unsafe in shelters compared to living rough on the street.
Youth facing homelessness are often forced to leave the education system in order to survive. This lack of education and specialized supports significantly increases LGBTQ2S+ youths’ odds of remaining homeless into adulthood.
Specialized support needed
LGBTQ2S+ youth continue to experience stigma and prejudice. When these youth are facing homelessness, they may encounter increased discrimination leading them to refuse or bypass community support services..
To better serve the LGBTQ2S+ community, we need increased specialized supports for the youth to meet their specific needs. We need specialized housing where the youth feel safe and comfortable.
With information from:
“LGBTQ2S+ Populations & Homelessness” presentation by Horst Backé M.N., Living OUT Visibly & Engaged Community Response Network