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Raising the bar: Improving the experiences of 2SLGBTQ+ youth

October 23, 2020

2-minute read

Earlier this week, Wisdom2Action launched two ground-breaking new resources, designed in collaboration with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, Planned Parenthood Toronto, the Canadian Teachers Federation, Action Canada for Sexual Health and Rights, and the Ontario Centre of Excellence for Child and Youth Mental Health, focused on “Raising the Bar’ for 2SLGBTQ+ Youth.

Across Canada, community, health and social services have made significant gains on 2SLGBTQ+ inclusion. Many organizations have introduced policies to protect against homophobia and transphobia. Others have worked to build the capacity of their staff through training and education on 2SLGBTQ+ inclusion. However–despite significant steps forward–2SLGBTQ+ young people continue to face homophobia and transphobia within organizations that ought to be providing them with the affirming services and supports that they need.

The traditional approach to 2SLGBTQ+ inclusion has been characterized by one-off workshops, often hour-long sessions intended to help front-line service providers familiarize themselves with concepts of gender and sexuality and provide workers with practical tools to better support 2SLGBTQ+ youth. While these workshops are an important step towards building 2SLGBTQ+ inclusion, they do not go far enough. Organizations do not just need one-off workshops, but instead, intentional, ongoing efforts to ensure that 2SLGBTQ+ inclusion is embedded at the core.

Unfortunately, there are few supports available to help guide organizations in their journeys towards 2SLGBTQ+ inclusion. Often, organizations are left trying to figure it out for themselves. And this is a big part of why our sector is stuck in a cycle of one-time workshops repeated every year or two with minimal impact on the experiences of 2SLGBTQ+ youth when accessing services.

Recognizing this need, we created our resources as a first step to help organizations move beyond a “2SLGBTQ+ 101” workshop, and guide them through a comprehensive, implementation-based process to change their organizational culture so that 2SLGBTQ+ inclusion is a core part of who they are as an organization. 

Our first resource is a Call to Action for 2SLGBTQ+ Youth, which articulates the standard that youth-serving organizations, and in fact, all community, health and social services, should strive to meet to ensure 2SLGBTQ+ youth are provided with the inclusive and supportive care they need and deserve.

Our second resource, Implementing 2SLGBTQ+ Inclusion: a Tipsheet for Change Champions in the Youth-Serving Sector, strives to provide organizations with the road-map they need to raise the bar and take concrete steps forward on 2SLGBTQ+ inclusion.

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to 2SLGBTQ+ inclusion. Every organization’s journey should and will look different because their journey will depend on the needs and experiences of local 2SLGBTQ+ youth. However, an intentional process is crucial to ensure we are doing this work well and doing this work right. 

Too often, efforts towards 2SLGBTQ+ inclusion do not have sufficient resources or staff time to do justice to and enact meaningful change for 2SLGBTQ+ youth. These resources aren’t the only or sole solution, but they’re one step forward to help organizations do this work the right way. 

More information about Wisdom2Action’s services and supports to help organization build their capacity on 2SLGBTQ+ inclusion can be accessed here. 

Fae Johnstone (they/she) is an 2SLGBTQ+ educator and organizer based on unceded, unsurrendered Algonquin Territory (Ottawa, ON). Follow them on Twitter at @FaeJohnstone.

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