June is Pride Month in Canada, and although many activities like parades have been put on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important to honour this celebration and the progress in visibility and equality achieved throughout history thanks to leadership from the LGBTQ2S+ community and continue to recognize their incredible strength, leadership and accomplishments of those in LGBTQ2S+ communities while advocating as an allied organization.
For many children and youth who identify as LGBTQ2S+, coming out can be one of the most difficult, socially isolating periods of their life. Unfortunately, many LGBTQ2S+ kids face rejection from their birth family for their sexual orientation or gender expression, and, through no fault of their own, find themselves in care of the child welfare system. Once they are in care, figuring out their identities is often met with the ongoing acceptance and stigma issues and a lack of necessary supports to navigate the coming out process and beyond. Children’s Aid Foundation of Canada is committed to creating opportunities for LGBTQ2S+ young people to find a sense of belonging and pride in their identities as they navigate this experience.
Some of the ways the Foundation supports these populations include:
• The PRIDE/Out and Proud Education and Enhancement program, supported through the Teddy Bear Grant, works to enhance CAS Toronto’s PRIDE visibility, deepens learning for staff, engages youth voices, and supports LGBTQ2S+ youth.
• Our Health and Well-Being Fund supports many different health needs of children, youth, and families, including helping young people with costs associated with sex reassignment surgeries (SRS) such as travel and accommodation for youth and their support person. It also assists with the cost of transition supports that are not otherwise covered such as puberty suppressants and cross-sex hormones.
Young people from LGBTQ2S+ communities face unique and overwhelming barriers, with those involved in child welfare often facing compounding stigma and marginalization within the system. Access to the care and supports they need to develop their identity and build community with LGBTQ2S+ peers and mentors is crucial for them to thrive and, sometimes, for their survival.
Children’s Aid Foundation of Canada proudly stands with LGBTQ2S+ communities and is committed to supporting young people in and from care, and challenging the unfair, unjust social stigmas they continue to face.
We hope everyone had a safe and happy Pride month!