How can my school support me?
The first resource you may be able to turn to at school is your teacher or guidance counsellor. Our educators are not just responsible for teaching you subjects like math and history, they’re also responsible for creating a safe and supportive learning environment for their students. They may not have all the answers, but they can usually connect you with places that can help you find them.
Your school may also have a student-run club by the name of Gender and Sexuality Alliance (GSA). These clubs help foster queer community in public schools all across Ontario. They educate students about gender and sexuality and provide safe and confidential support to students exploring themselves. If there’s no GSA in your school, you have a right to start one. Talk to your school principal to figure out how.
Colleges and universities also have supports for LGBTQIA+ students, like student clubs and resource centers for the queer community. Check-in with your students’ union about what kinds of supports are available to you.
Where can I get support in my community?
Many organizations and institutions offer in-person and virtual support to youth who identify as part of the LGBTQIA+ community and who are exploring their gender and sexuality.
The first place you may want to check out is the LGBT YouthLine, a youth-led organization that provides anonymous support to youth. You can call their HelpLine at 1-800-268-9688, or text them at 647-694-4275, or chat with them live.
In Toronto, The 519 is a popular community centre that provides support to LGBTQIA+ people, including youth and newcomers.
If you’re outside of Toronto, you should check for local services through 211 Ontario.
For more resources in Ontario and around specific experiences, you can check this list of resources by Roots in Wellness, a Hamilton-based therapy provider.
Where can I find health services for the queer community?
You may have particular health needs if you identify as LGBTQIA+. If you’re new to Canada, you may be less aware than others of where to go for your health concerns.
Generally speaking, healthcare providers like doctors and nurses are not allowed to discriminate against anyone and must provide you with quality healthcare. They can get into a lot of legal trouble if they don’t.
You still may want to find services that cater specifically to the needs of your community. These organizations and services may be able to help:
- The Hassle Free Clinic in Toronto is a community-based clinic that provides non-judgemental, supportive medical and counseling services in all areas of sexual health. It’s also the largest anonymous HIV test site in Canada.
- Access Alliance has many supports for LGTBQIA+ newcomers, including primary care services and trans-inclusive healthcare.
- Alliance for South Asian AIDS Prevention is a not-for-profit organization that provides culturally responsive health and support services for people from South Asian, Middle Eastern, and Indo-Caribbean communities who are affected by HIV and related health concerns.
- Asian Community AIDS Services is a not-for-profit organization based in Toronto that provides safe sex education and services to the East and Southeast Asian communities to people living with HIV/AIDS and members of the LGBTQIA+ community.
- The Centre for Spanish Speaking People's Sexual Health Program provides education, counseling, and support in Spanish, including trans education and workshops.
You can also search for other LGBTQIA+ community resources in your area by entering your location at 211 Ontario.
Do any religious groups support LGBTQIA+ youth?
Yes! Faith and spirituality are both something everyone has a right to explore, and many religious traditions welcome and support the queer community.
This can be complicated, however, because historically, many religions have persecuted LGBTQIA+ people and your own family may be telling you that it’s not okay to be anything but cis and straight. Start by reading this resource on queerness and religion.
You can also check out the following resources for faith-based support:
- Find an Affirming Church that ministers to LGBTQIA+ Christians across the globe
- Reach out to Salaam Canada, a national volunteer-run organization that provides safe and support spaces for LGBTQIA+ Muslims
- Check out resources for Jewish LGBTQIA+ youth
If you don’t identify with any of these faiths, reach out to a local organization that supports LGBTQIA+, like The 519 in Toronto, and ask what kinds of support is available for the queer community be institutions of the religion you identify with.