Equal treatment is a right

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A newly-released report from the Alberta Child and Youth Advocate regarding sexually- and gender-diverse youth points to a need for prompt government action.

Whether the political battle now raging over gay-straight alliances in schools will derail much-needed reform remains to be seen.

What is known is that one of Alberta’s most vulnerable populations continue to face wholly unreasonable dangers not faced by the general population.

Child and Youth Advocate Del Graff released Speaking Out: A Special Report on LGBTQ2S+ Young People in the Child Welfare and Youth Justice Systems.

LGBTLQ2S+ is a term used to describe youth who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, indigenous two-spirit and others.

In the report Graff identified numerous cases where LGBTQ2S+ youths face derogatory and homophobic remarks and other problems when trying to access some government services.

Such youth are confronted with a heightened risk of self-harm, addiction, depression, anxiety, homelessness and suicide, he said.

“It is crucial that we explore and identify opportunities for child-serving systems to find solutions,” said Graff.

“I sincerely hope that the recommendations arising from this report will be quickly acted on to ensure that government ministries implement changes that improve circumstances for LGBTQ2S+ young people in government care.”

In response, Children’s Services Minister Danielle Larivee said the government is committed to making improvements.

“We agree that we must always look for ways to better support LGBTQ2S+ youth,” said Larivee. “That’s why our government introduced and passed Bill 24, to protect students in gay-straight and queer-straight alliances, and why we created new Youth and Housing Shelter Guidelines that recognize the unique challenges that LGBTQ2S+ youth at risk of homelessness face.”

Young people in every community, including in Central Alberta, have the right to access government services without discrimination.

As such, the government should and must act quickly to address the concerns raised by the Child and Youth Advocate.

Anything less would be an affront to all Albertans.

– Singleton is the Mountain View Gazette editor

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About Author

Dan Singleton

Dan Singleton is the editor of the Mountain View Gazette who joined the newspaper in 1994. He covers news, municipal politics and community events in Mountain View County. He is also a longtime columnist for other publications of Mountain View Publishing.