The recently published 2013 Street Needs Assessment reports that one in five homeless youth in Toronto identify as LGBT. Unfortunately, that just happens to be the tip of the iceberg.
According to the Toronto Star, a study by the University of Toronto found that homeless LGBT youth face a disproportionately high rate of abuse in shelters. Though the specific percentage is not known, many homeless youth reportedly refuse to go into shelters out of fear of abuse.
In his unpublished dissertation, Abramovich writes that the shelter system’s dangers are driving queer youth onto the streets.
One told him of spending months living in a city park rather than braving the taunts and threats of physical attack in youth shelters.
“It’s become accepted that (shelters are) an unsafe place for LGBT youth,” Abramovich said.
There are no firm statistics on homophobic incidents in youth shelters, because victims rarely report them. As one youth told Abramovich, “I’ve just been beaten up for being gay — the last thing I want to do is call the City of Toronto.”
I have no idea what exactly the hell is going on in these shelters, but when your actions make living on the streets a more viable option, I’m pretty sure you’ve violated the warranty on your soul.
One of the biggest problems with LGBT abuse in shelters is that, as the study finds, incidents are rarely if ever reported. Yes, reporting abuse is an uphill battle, but refusing to confront it only allows the problem to develop into something systematic.
[Image via Huffington Post]