Alex Blaze

Candidate runs on queer youth homeless shelter platform

Filed By Alex Blaze | September 29, 2010 3:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Politics
Tags: Canada, LGBT, LGBT homeless, LGBT youth, queer, shelter, toronto

Imagine a candidate running this season in the US including this in her platform:

story_main_erickson2.jpgA candidate for Toronto city council is asking for the community's support to help create the city's first homeless shelter for queer youth.

"We know that queer and trans youth who end up homeless very quickly learn that shelters are unsafe places, and it increases their risk of making choices that damage both their physical and emotional well-being," says high school teacher Michael Erickson, who is running in Ward 14 and spearheading the project.

Erickson cites a 2004 study, which found that 32 percent of homeless youth in Toronto identify as queer.

Some of Erickson's students have been in and out of Toronto's homeless shelters, where they've faced constant physical and verbal harassment for being queer, he says.

"Either their parents kicked them out of the house [because of their sexual or gender identity], or they were experiencing such difficulty or neglect at home that leaving seemed to be the safest option for them, only to end up in shelters where they received either higher or a similar degree of abuse," he says.

What's interesting is that he cites the US as a model:

Erickson says Canada is behind other countries on this issue and points to the United States, where New York City has several homeless shelters exclusively for queer youth.

"In our Canadian context, we actually focused on increasing the privileges of adults who already were living in safe environments," says Erickson, referring to the fight for legalized same-sex marriage.

"Just because somebody can go on a gay cruise doesn't mean we're done meeting the needs and dreams of queer and trans people, and youth especially," he says.

Obviously it's all roses and Karl Marx on our side of the border.

Still, good for him for campaigning on this. It's not enough, as we found out in 2008, for a pol to begrudgingly support LGBT legislation, especially since it's often because they just don't want to seem retrograde. When they actually make it a promise instead of a "Yeah, if it comes before me I won't be too big of a jerk about it," it's more of a sign of progress.


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""In our Canadian context, we actually focused on increasing the privileges of adults who already were living in safe environments," says Erickson, referring to the fight for legalized same-sex marriage.

"Just because somebody can go on a gay cruise doesn't mean we're done meeting the needs and dreams of queer and trans people, and youth especially," he says."

Um, yes, someone should tell him to say "United States" instead of "Canadian." I didn't know whether to laugh or cry when I saw that.

Still, good for him, and what he says is so correct.

Inspiring article from Toronto, but please, don't lump all LGBT people as queer.

"Erickson cites a 2004 study, which found that 32 percent of homeless youth in Toronto identify as queer."

I know that many young people refer to themselves as queer, but NOT all of them. I am gay, but I am not "queer."

Yeah, not so much. I don't see it happening here.