It’s not get­ting bet­ter for LGBTQ+ youth

RE: LGBTQ+ youth

The Hamilton Spectator - - OPINION -

The Canadian gov­ern­ment amended the Canadian Hu­man Rights Act in 1996 to in­clude sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion as pro­hib­ited grounds for dis­crim­i­na­tion. This marked a big mile­stone in the LGBTQ+ com­mu­nity, but as we have seen through high youth sui­cide rates, it wasn’t enough.

LGBTQ+ youth, par­tic­u­larly the trans­gen­der and gen­der non-con­firm­ing com­mu­nity, are dy­ing by sui­cide at alarm­ing rates. Re­cently, the gov­ern­ment fur­ther amended the Canadian Hu­man Rights act to in­clude gen­der iden­tity and ex­pres­sion in an at­tempt to pro­tect the trans­gen­der and gen­der non­con­form­ing com­mu­nity in Canada.

Chang­ing leg­is­la­tion is a good first step, how­ever gov­ern­ment at all lev­els, has a re­spon­si­bil­ity to take fur­ther ac­tion.

There have been many cam­paigns to help LGBTQ+ youth feel hope­ful; send­ing the mes­sage “life goes on” and “it gets bet­ter.” While th­ese mes­sages might res­onate with few, in my ex­pe­ri­ence th­ese mes­sages are in­ter­nal­ized as pa­tron­iz­ing and false.

Be­cause the re­search in­di­cates, it is NOT get­ting bet­ter. It is still very bad.

LGBTQ+ youth ex­pe­ri­ence dis­crim­i­na­tion in ex­plicit ways and im­plicit ways through het­ero­sex­ism, trans­pho­bia, bi­pho­bia and ho­mo­pho­bia on ev­ery level of ser­vice they ac­cess.

While there is progress be­ing made at fed­eral lev­els, that progress is not trans­lat­ing into tan­gi­ble change in the lives of LGBTQ+ peo­ple, and our youth are suf­fer­ing for our com­pla­cency.

LGBTQ+ youth sui­cide rates have a di­rect link to our cur­rent po­lit­i­cal and cul­ture cli­mate we have all cre­ated and con­doned. Now it’s up to us to do some­thing about it. Char­lotte Ship­ley, Hamilton

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