The Unity Project has 32 recommendations for emergency shelters to accommodate members of the LGBT community. The suggestions are part of a needs assessment done in collaboration with the City of London’s Homeless Partnering Strategy and consultant Geoff Bardwell.
Chuck Lazenby, executive director of the Unity Project, says one way to make LGBT visitors more comfortable is by watching out for gendered language.
“The fact way that we say ‘Hey guys!’ all the time is very gendered language,” she explains, “We had a trans woman who was staying here and she’s like ‘I’m not a guy, and I don’t like that there’s gendered language used here all the time’ and I think that’s really fair.”
She adds shelters should also designate themselves as safe spaces. “If we’re going to post signs to do that, we need to have the competency to be able to respond to that to ensure we are able to put it into practice,” she says.
“We need training for shelter staff so that we’re understanding the language, we’re understanding the definitions.”
She says that although LGBT and homelessness is associated with youth, the 17 people interviewed for the report were all different ages. She adds that many of them say they face association, along with addiction, depression and other mental health issues.
The report will be launched at the London Public Library on February 3rd. It will take place in the Stevenson Hunt Room at 3 p.m.