Friday, March 23, 2012

LGBTQ youth homelessness and the art of digital storytelling

I just spent three fabulous days in Ottawa at the Rainbow Health Ontario conference.
It was wonderful to see so many informative and groundbreaking presentations.
I feel very honoured to be part of this community and to have had the opportunity to speak to the issues of LGBTQ youth homelessness, because this population of youth is often left out of these important conversations.

The main goals of my presentation were to increase knowledge and awareness around LGBTQ youth homelessness in Canada, as well as to help formulate an understanding of the use of digital storytelling with LGBTQ youth and to have people leave with some key points of how digital storytelling is done.

I spoke about how we have extensive research on youth homelessness in Canada and within those studies it is often indicated that LGBTQ youth homelessness is on the rise, but agencies report difficulty in providing support, however there is seldom any follow-up or further investigation. Therefore, we have a large gap in knowledge in this area.
What we do know, however, is that queer youth are overrepresented in the homeless youth population and that approximately 25-40% of homeless youth identify as LGBTQ. We also know that a large proportion of youth migrate to Toronto hoping to find support services and safety because of Toronto’s queer friendly reputation and because Toronto is known as the homeless capital of Canada.

A high percentage of people who are homeless happen to be LGBT because they got kicked out of their
house, or maybe they lost their job, or they lived in a small town, then they can’t pay their rent and where else
can they come, but Toronto?
(Homeless youth, 27 years old)

I also spoke about the risks encountered on the streets and in the shelter system, the daily challenges, and needs of queer homeless youth. Two films were screened to share the voices and stories of queer youth with lived experiences of homelessness.

I was extremely pleased to have such a full room of interested and engaged people to present to.
The questions and conversations that followed my presentation truly portrayed a group of people who want to see more support for LGBTQ homeless youth.
We must continue raising awareness to these issues.
We must continue sharing these important stories.
We must continue doing this until the appropriate support is in place.

Thank you,
I. Alex Abramovich

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

RHO 2012 Conference

Join us at the Rainbow Health Ontario Conference, March 20-23, 2012 at the Ottawa Marriott Hotel.
The theme of this conference is: “Supporting LGBT Health Through Every Stage of Life.”
Over 50 presentations and workshops will address issues surrounding the health and wellness of LGBTQ communities in Ontario.

Delegates from the health care, social service, public policy and other helping professions will be exposed to opportunities to learn more about LGBT health concerns, explore innovative research being done in this area, as well as be provided with several opportunities to network with other professionals from the academic, health and government sectors.

Ten workshops will be dedicated exclusively to issues relating to youth, eight dedicated to seniors, and seven dedicated to parenting.

I will be presenting on LGBTQ youth homelessness in Toronto and the use of Digital Storytelling (two short films will be screened) on Friday March 23, 2012 at 11am.