The number of ‘out’ youth and the acceptance of them in their communities are increasing, yet there are still a number of issues faced by LGBT youth. Research out of Toronto indicates that potentially as many as 1 in 5 homeless youth identifies as LGBT, and that they are more likely than other youth to be on the streets instead of in shelters due to homophobia and the fear of violence.[1] According to PFLAG Canada, upwards of 26% of LGBT youth are told to leave home.[2]

LGBT youth also have a high risk of engaging in self-harm, particularly if they have not come out yet or have not been accepted by their family. Research indicates that approximately 30% of youth suicides are by LGBT youth, and that 43% of trans-identified youth are likely to attempt suicide.[3] Among LGBT youth there is a 20% increase in suicide attempts for those in unsupportive environments.[4]. Regardless of other risk factors, such as depression or substance abuse, living in a supportive environment is associated with significantly fewer suicide attempts.

In spite of the issues faced by some LGBT youth, many families are supportive, open, and accepting of their LGBT children. These families represent a wide array of religions, ethnicities, cultural backgrounds, and abilities. While the stereotypical story of an LGBT youth being unaccepted still holds true in some families, it is important to recognize that an increasing number of parents love their child regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

DID YOU KNOW? There are weekly support groups for LGBT and questioning youth. Contact the Inside Out Youth group in Calgary or the Youth Space in Edmonton