Why This Toolkit is Needed
Training and professional development opportunities are important as it gives staff the ability to gain new and refresh existing skills/knowledge.
This quote is from the staff survey we conducted to establish a benchmark understanding of how well organizations are able to train staff to support LGBTQ2S youth experiencing homelessness. As stated already organizations encounter a number of barriers to being able to provide training and professional development opportunities for staff and managers.
We know spaces for youth are not always positive spaces for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, transsexual, queer, questioning, and Two Spirit (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 (Abramovich, 2014; O’Brien, Travers, Bell, 1993; Dunne et al., 2002). Of these youth, Two Spirit, Aboriginal and trans youth are most at risk of homelessness, suicide, and addiction.
In the 2013 Toronto Needs Assessment, 21% of youth experiencing homelessness identified as being LGBTQ2S (City of Toronto, 2013 Street Needs Assessment Results). While this number is 2 to 4 times higher than the rate for housed youth, it is low based on current research that estimates 40% of youth experiencing homelessness identify as LGBTQ2S.
For more statistics please see: One Of The Biggest Challenges Facing Gay People Isn’t Marriage Equality
Research and youth are telling us that LGBTQ2S youth are in need of improved services and programs that address and support their needs (Abramovich, 2013, 2014; Denomme-Welch, Pyne, & Scanlon, 2008). Youth-serving organizations need additional resources and training to better support youth who identify as LGBTQ2S. Organizations are under-funded 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 many organizations are working in isolation and lack networks they can access for resources.