VICTORIA — British Columbia’s representative for children and youth is calling on the provincial government to identify and implement policies to support gender-diverse children, particularly those in care.
Jennifer Charlesworth says a review by her office conducted of critical injury and death reports of gender-diverse youth between 2018 and 2021 raises serious concerns about the experiences of these young people.
She says their analysis revealed 44 per cent of two-spirit, transgender, nonbinary and other gender-diverse youth in government care reported suicidal thoughts and self harm compared with 14 per cent of cis-males and 22 per cent of cis-females.
Charlesworth says those outcomes are “preventable” and that those statistics even out when the proper supports are in place.
She says the lack of gender-affirming care, from medical intervention to social support, can cause further harm and trauma for the youth in a time when LGBTQ+ groups are facing an influx of hate and violence.
The report recommended the Children’s Ministry create at least two provincial positions to support staff and caregivers of gender-diverse children, and that the Addictions Ministry review the mental health needs of the group to be reflected in the government’s next action plan.
“By implementing these recommendations, government can create positive change,” Charlesworth said in a news release.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 22, 2023.