Looking at the past year, there were a lot of gains for the LGBTQ2S community in Canada.
Trudeau issued a national apology for past government persecution of LGBT people. There was a trans rights bills passed federally and in several provinces. Alberta passed a law requiring schools to provide gay-straight alliances (GSA’s) for all students.
But there is still a lot of work to do.
Recently a group of activists are called on the government to appoint a cabinet minister to represent the LGBTQ community. Something similar has been in the works with Alberta as well, with the call for a civic advisory committee for the city of Edmonton.
One of the first priorities for the LGBTQ2S community in Alberta needs to be services and support for youth.
In 2017 the Alberta Office of the Child and Youth Advocate released a huge report on LGBTQ2S youth called Speaking Out.
The report pointed out that despite more acceptance and support for LGBTQ2S youth in Canada, ‘they are also at a higher risk of homelessness, mental illness, violence and suicide.’
According to Egale, LGBTQ youth are four times more likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual peers and 33 per cent of LGB youth have attempted suicide in comparison to seven per cent of youth in general. A study also found that between 25 per cent and 40 per cent of homeless youth in Canada identify as LGBT.
So just what can be done to support LGBTQ2S in Alberta?
The following are the recommendations from the Office of the Child and Youth Advocate’s report:
1. Require training about unique LGBTQ needs for all government employees who work with young people or make decisions that affect them.
2. Create LGBTQ-specific living options for children and youth in care.
3. Review and revise policies and practices around identity, safety, living arrangements, services and supports for LGBTQ children and youth.
4. Establish policies to guide decision-making for employees specific to transgender youth.
5. Ensure young people receive appropriate and inclusive sexual health information.
No young person should ever feel like they don’t matter because of their sexual orientation. All Albertans need to come together to support LGBTQ2S youth.