2SLGBTQI+ youth are continuing to experience bullying and discrimination in the Comox Valley.
As a response to these ongoing issues, this past May, the Comox Valley Community Health Network partnered with the Pride Society of the Comox Valley, facilitators from the non-profit NewStories, and youth advisors. Together, they hosted a virtual
dialogue for queer youth to share their experiences and to share their opinions and ideas about making change. The youth who attended the session were between the ages of 15 and 23. All participants were either current or past students of School District 71.
Based on what this brave group of queer youth shared, a recommendations report was created. We hope the report will help to inspire and guide local leadership to bridge the gaps between policy, action, and culture. Local leadership has an important part to play in fostering more acceptance and creating a more inclusive community for 2SLGBTQIA+ youth in the Comox Valley.
The youth shared that the virtual dialogue was a positive experience. One youth (names withheld for privacy) said that “It was a bittersweet comfort to actually hear someone else share an experience similar to my own” and another stated that “It felt
validating to connect over shared experiences in an environment where we are hoping to create change.”
The Comox Health Network works collectively to address the social determinants of health, and root causes of inequitable health outcomes in our community. Stigma and discrimination against queer and trans people are often embedded in the structure of organizations and social institutions which leads to unequal social, emotional, mental and physical health outcomes.
A few of the health indicators related to queer and trans youth in BC:
- ● 1 in 4 queer and trans youth in BC are forced out of their homes due to severe family conflict.
- Among homeless youth in BC, 1 in 3 females and 1 in 10 males self-identify as queer, trans or questioning. Within this group, people of color and aboriginal people fare worse.
- Queer and trans youth are twice as likely to live in unstable housing (moving three or more times in the past year) 29% of trans people report being turned away when trying to access shelters, and 22% report being assaulted by residents and staff .
- The risk of suicide among trans and queer youth is 14 times higher.
- Queer or trans homeless youth are 3 times more likely to engage in survival sex.
- Food insecurity: queer and trans youth are up to 5 times more likely to go to bed hungry at night because of no food in the house.
- There is a shortage of youth shelters and housing programs with supportive services that cater particularly to queer, trans and questioning youth because their existence and specific needs are not acknowledged.
“Here in the Comox Valley there is work to be done to create more supportive environments and a better understanding of the diversities that exist within our community”, says Network Facilitator, Lindsay McGinn. “Our work focusing on the determinants of health shows us that true inclusivity and a sense of belonging for everyone would help to reduce these negative consequences, promote positive well-being and reduce homelessness and long-term poverty”.
The Comox Valley Community Health Network is committed to addressing homophobia, transphobia, stigma, exclusion, and discrimination in our community.
To read the report and to learn more about the Comox Valley Community Health Network please visit our website: www.cvchn.ca
Comox Valley Community Health Network