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Toronto – At a kick-off event hosted on September 13th, The 519 launched a major new education and training curriculum Fostering an Inclusive Shelter Environment for LGBTQ2S Youth and a series of eleven infographics with a goal of addressing and ending youth homelessness in Toronto and across Canada.
Developed in collaboration with Dr. Alex Abramovich, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health and A Way Home, a national coalition dedicated to preventing, reducing and ending youth homelessness in Canada, and generously funded by TD Bank and the City of Toronto, these new integrated supports will help address systematic problems in shelter and housing programs that are often unsafe for LGBTQ2S youth, due to homophobic, transphobic, and biphobic violence.
“LGBTQ2S youth remain largely overrepresented in the homeless youth population, with estimates as high as up to 40 per cent of homeless youth identifying as LGBTQ2S”, says Maura Lawless, Executive Director, The 519.
“The 519 has long advocated for LGBTQ2S homeless youth, and we hope these new resources will be broadly shared to advance the conversation and to address these important issues.”
The resources will be incorporated as part of newly mandated LGBTQ2S cultural competency training to be delivered to City of Toronto, Shelter, Support and Housing Administration staff, among others.
The 519 and Dr. Alex Abramovich worked in partnership to develop the curriculum, with the goal to help staff and organizations become better allies of LGBTQ2S youth and to advance the work to create welcoming and affirming spaces (social, physical and cultural) for LGBTQ2S youth.
“Until we end LGBTQ2S youth homelessness and ensure safe, welcoming, and inclusive environments in all support programs, the fight to create authentic spaces for LGBTQ2S homeless youth will be far from over," says Dr. Alex Abramovich.
Last night’s launch event also included the premiere screening of Dr. Abramovich's powerful documentary Nowhere To Go: A Brokered Dialogue, followed by a panel discussion with LGBTQ2S youth. Here is how one young trans person interviewed by Abramovich described what it is like to be trans and homeless in Toronto:
"Try living in a world where it's hard enough to love yourself, but even harder to be accepted, going into a place where you think you can be safe, going into a place where you assume you can get help but every door you try to open is locked or sealed shut, you're trying to walk back to where you started but that door is also locked. You try very hard to break down that door. Once you get through you realize you cannot be you."
The 519, Dr. Abramovich, and other national partners, continue to advocate for a national strategy for dealing with LGBTQ2S homeless youth.
For information contact:Steven Little Director, Social Enterprise, Education and Advocacy 416-355-6798