The LGBTQ2S Youth Housing and Shelter Guidelines are the first of their kind in Canada.
Nearly one in three homeless youth in Canada identifies as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and/or questioning and two-spirit. Research indicates these youth face higher rates of discrimination, violence and abuse than other young people.
“All Albertans deserve to feel safe and accepted when accessing services and we know we must do more to help LGTBQ2S youth feel supported when they are experiencing or at risk of homelessness. These new guidelines follow the leadership of Alberta’s LGBTQ2S service providers and help ensure our entire housing and homelessness system is secure and inclusive for everyone. I thank our community partners for working with us to help develop and implement these crucial changes to our shelters and support programs. Working together, we can make a difference.”
The guidelines, developed through a cross-ministry and community partnership, help individuals and organizations build relationships of openness and trust with these vulnerable youth by ensuring confidentiality, providing guidance to staff on how to create respectful and inclusive environments and providing information about LGBTQ2S-friendly language.
They also ensure organizational policies and housing and shelter spaces support this population by guiding staff through implementing open, unbiased intake processes and facilitating referrals to inclusive services and supports. In addition, the guidelines provide a better understanding of LGBTQ2S terminology and information on where to find additional resources and examples of how other organizations are succeeding in creating inclusive, safe environments for youth.
“These guidelines are the result of collaborative efforts across the province from those focused on ending youth homelessness in Alberta. By having the voices of so many partners involved in the process, we now have a sustainable framework and the tools to equip those working with LGBTQ2S youth to eliminate barriers and create paths to move youth forward.”
The guidelines will be shared with agencies and staff across Community and Social Services and Children’s Services who work with youth, and will be available to anyone on the Government of Alberta website.
The Alberta government recognizes the unique challenges these homeless youth experience. Budget 2017-2018 reinvested approximately $525,000 to maintain LGBTQ2S-specific housing and supports in Edmonton and Calgary.