n recent years, there has been an increasing awareness and understanding of the varied experiences and identities of the LGBTQI2S+ community. This acronym, representing Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and additional identities, has become a unifying term for diverse individuals whose sexual orientation or gender identity falls outside the heterosexual and cisgender majority. As society evolves in its understanding, more people – particularly younger generations – are openly identifying as LGBTQI2S+. In the 2021 Gallup poll, an estimated 5.6% of American adults identify as LGBTQI2S+, up from 4.5% in 2017. Those in the younger generation primarily drive this increase. However, this rise in visibility and self-identification has not been met with universal acceptance. Prejudice, discrimination, and violence persist, with LGBTQI2S+ individuals often facing significant disparities in mental health, social acceptance, and fundamental human rights. The Trevor Project’s 2021 National Survey on LGBTQI2S+ Youth Mental Health found that more than 40% of LGBTQI2S+ youth seriously considered suicide in the past year. Furthermore, these disparities are not limited to the United States. Homosexuality remains criminalized in many countries, and transgender people face violence and discrimination worldwide.
Given the scale and complexity of these issues, it’s clear that societal change, policy reform, and increased support services are needed. Charitable organizations are pivotal in this work, providing crucial resources, support networks, and advocacy efforts to address these disparities. The nonprofit sector’s diverse services include mental health support, advocacy for equal rights, education about LGBTQI2S+ identities, and safe spaces for community building. As individuals, our role in supporting LGBTQI2S+ rights and well-being can be as varied as the community itself. From making financial contributions to LGBTQI2S+ charities to volunteering to advocate for policy changes, each of us has a part to play in fostering a more inclusive and equitable society. By understanding the challenges facing the LGBTQI2S+ community and the work being done to address them, resources can be better directed to have a meaningful impact.
This exploration will take us through some of the charitable organizations leading the charge in support of LGBTQI2S+ communities in Canada and the United States. We will examine their unique contributions, the impact of their work, and the ways we can contribute to their missions. We will also delve into the global context, exploring the challenges faced by LGBTQI2S+ individuals in countries where their identities are criminalized and discussing the efforts being made to effect change on an international scale. Through this journey, we aim to provide a broader and deeper understanding of the importance and impact of supporting LGBTQI2S+ charities and our crucial role in fostering a more accepting and inclusive society. In a world that is becoming increasingly diverse, the need for acceptance and support, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, is more critical than ever. Together, we can help create a world where everyone can live authentically and unafraid.
Championing Change: Everyday Actions to Support the LGBTQI2S+ Community.
In the face of ongoing discrimination, systemic inequalities, and prejudice faced by the LGBTQI2S+ community, it can sometimes feel overwhelming for individuals who want to help but are unsure of where to start. Yet, every action – no matter how small it may seem – can contribute to a more inclusive and accepting society. Here are several ways individuals can help to support and advocate for the LGBTQI2S+ community:
Educate Yourself and Others: Understanding the experiences, issues, and terminology related to the LGBTQI2S+ community is an essential first step. Numerous resources are available online from LGBTQI2S+ organizations to guide you. By educating yourself, you’ll be better equipped to address misinformation and engage in conversations about LGBTQI2S+ issues.
Support LGBTQI2S+ Nonprofits: Consider donating to nonprofits that support the LGBTQI2S+ community. These organizations provide crucial services, such as crisis intervention, legal support, health services, and advocacy work. Even if you cannot make a financial contribution, there are other ways to support these organizations – consider volunteering your time, using your skills, or helping to spread the word about their work.
Advocate for Policy Change: Public policy significantly impacts the lives of LGBTQI2S+ individuals; by advocating for laws and policy changes that help protect the rights of the LGBTQI2S+ community, you can influence change. This could involve writing to your local representatives, participating in peaceful protests, or voting in favour of LGBTQI2S+ rights in referendums and elections.
Amplify LGBTQI2S+ Voices: Amplify the voices of LGBTQI2S+ individuals, particularly those from marginalized communities within the broader LGBTQI2S+ community. This could involve sharing their stories, advocating for their inclusion in conversations, and standing against censorship of LGBTQI2S+ experiences.
Create Safe Spaces: It’s important to foster environments where LGBTQI2S+ individuals feel seen, heard, and accepted. This might involve implementing inclusive practices in your workplace, school, or social groups. It could also affect challenging homophobic or transphobic behaviour when you see it.
Support LGBTQI2S+ Businesses: Many LGBTQI2S+ individuals own and operate businesses that contribute positively to their communities. By supporting these businesses, you can help ensure their continued success and the economic well-being of the LGBTQI2S+ community.
Be an Ally: Being an ally involves more than avoiding harmful behaviours – it involves active engagement. Listen to and learn from LGBTQI2S+ individuals, stand up against discrimination when you see it, and use your privilege to advocate for the rights and acceptance of the LGBTQI2S+ community.
Every action counts. While it may not always feel like it, each step you take toward supporting the LGBTQI2S+ community contributes to a broader societal shift toward equality and acceptance. Remember, keeping the LGBTQI2S+ community is not a one-time action but an ongoing commitment. We all have a role in making our society more inclusive and equitable.
10 Charities in Canada working with LGBTQI2S+
1. Rainbow Railroad: Rainbow Railroad is a unique organization that supports LGBTQI2S+ individuals facing imminent physical threats due to their sexual orientation or identity. They aid these individuals by providing resources to travel to safe countries. This organization plays a crucial role in countries where LGBTQI2S+ can lead to serious harm or even death. [Website](https://www.rainbowrailroad.org/)
2. Egale: Egale works to improve the lives of LGBTQI2S+ people in Canada and to enhance the global response to LGBTQI2S+ issues by informing public policy and promoting human rights. [Website](https://egale.ca/)
3. Queer Students Community Centre (QSCC): Based at the University of Alberta, the QSCC provides safe, accessible, and welcoming spaces for all individuals who identify as sexual or gender minorities (SGM). The organization conducts events, offers support services, and fosters an inclusive community. [Website](https://www.su.ualberta.ca/services/qcentre/)
4. The 519: The 519 is dedicated to advocacy for the inclusion of LGBTQI2S+ communities and provides direct service to the LGBTQI2S+ communities of Toronto. Their commitment to diversity and promoting inclusion and understanding makes them a vital resource. [Website](https://www.the519.org/)
5. Queer Yukon Society: This organization is committed to creating a supportive and inclusive Yukon where everyone can live their truth. They promote equality and acceptance through events and advocacy, particularly focused on the unique challenges faced by LGBTQI2S+ individuals in Canada’s North. [Website](https://www.queeryukon.com/)
6. PFLAG Canada: PFLAG Canada is a national charitable organization that supports LGBTQI2S+ who may have questions about sexual orientation or gender identity. Their grassroots approach and focus on family and ally support are especially commendable. [Website](https://pflagcanada.ca/)
7. The Canadian Centre for Gender and Sexual Diversity (CCGSD): The CCGSD addresses discrimination and bullying based on gender identity, expression and orientation across Canada. They provide resources and workshops and advocate for policy changes at various levels of government. [Website](https://ccgsd-ccdgs.org/)
8. Pride at Work Canada: This organization promotes a workplace culture where all employees can achieve their full potential, regardless of gender expression, gender identity, or sexual orientation. Their work is essential for creating equitable and inclusive workplaces. [Website](https://prideatwork.ca/)
9. Youths HIV & Hep C Society: A youth-driven organization, YouthCO aims to reduce the impact of HIV and Hep C stigma on youth in British Columbia. Their inclusivity and focus on young LGBTQI2S+ people affected by these conditions make them an essential resource. [Website](https://www.youthco.org/)
10. Sherbourne Health Centre: The Sherbourne Health Centre provides inclusive, accessible health care for LGBTQI2S+ individuals, including transitioning health services for transgender individuals. Their commitment to inclusive healthcare significantly impacts the lives of many LGBTQI2S+ individuals. [Website](https://sherbourne.on.ca/)
10 U.S.-based organizations working with LGBTQI2S+
1. Trevor Project: The Trevor Project provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention services for LGBTQI2S+ youth. The Trevor Lifeline, TrevorChat, and TrevorText services offer crucial lifelines to young people who may feel isolated or unsupported. [Website](https://www.thetrevorproject.org/)
2. GLAAD: GLAAD works through entertainment, news, and digital media to share stories from the LGBTQI2S+ community that accelerate acceptance. Their focus on media representation makes them a key player in shaping the cultural narrative around LGBTQI2S+ issues. [Website](https://www.glaad.org/)
3. Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund (TLDEF): TLDEF is committed to fighting discrimination based on the expression and identity of gender and to achieving equality for transgender people. [Website](https://transgenderlegal.org/)
4. National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE): NCTE advocates for local, state, and federal policy changes to ensure laws and policies include all identities. [Website](https://transequality.org/)
5. LGBT National Help Center: The organization provides support, community connections, and resource information to LGBTQI2S+ individuals nationwide. Their hotlines and online chat services provide critical support to individuals needing access to local resources. [Website](https://www.glbthotline.org/)
6. Point Foundation: This foundation empowers promising LGBTQIS+ to help achieve their full leadership potential and significantly impact society. [Website](https://pointfoundation.org/)
7. SAGE (Services & Advocacy for GLBT Elders): SAGE focuses on improving the lives of older LGBTQI2S+ adults. They offer supportive services and consumer resources, advocate for public policy changes, and provide training for aging providers and LGBTQI2S+ organizations. [Website](https://www.sageusa.org/)
8. Lambda Legal: Lambda Legal is committed to full recognition of the civil rights of LGBTQI2S+ through law, impact litigation, education, and public policy work. [Website](https://www.lambdalegal.org/)
9. GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network): GLSEN ensures that LGBTQI2S+ students grow in a school environment free from bullying and harassment. They research, provide resources, and advocate for policies that make schools more inclusive. [Website](https://www.glsen.org/)
10. PFLAG: PFLAG supports lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQI2S+) people, their parents and families, and allies. They envision a world where diversity is celebrated and everyone is respected, valued, and affirmed. [Website](https://pflag.org/)
In the global landscape, the experiences of LGBTQI2S+ individuals are as diverse as the individuals themselves. From the bustling streets of San Francisco, where the rainbow flag boldly flutters, to the less tolerant corners of the world where identities must be concealed for fear of persecution, the human rights and well-being of LGBTQI2S+ individuals remain a global issue. While it is easy to view this as solely an issue for the LGBTQI2S+ community, it is far more than that – it is a human rights issue and, therefore, an issue for all. We live in an interconnected world, where the happiness and prosperity of each matter to the well-being of us all. As such, the struggles and triumphs of the LGBTQI2S+ community are not separate from society at large; they are deeply woven into the fabric of who we are as human beings. Across the globe, strides have been made in recognizing LGBTQI2S+ rights. Marriage equality is now a reality in many countries, there are increasingly robust legal protections against discrimination, and society at large is becoming more accepting of various relationships. However, in numerous parts of the world, LGBTQI2S+ individuals still face significant challenges, such as laws criminalizing homosexuality, pervasive discrimination, or denying the right to express their gender identity.
Being openly LGBTQI2S+ can lead to imprisonment, violence, or even death in some regions. According to the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, and Intersex Association, as of 2021, there are still 69 countries that criminalize consensual same-sex acts. In six of these countries, homosexuality is punishable by death. Many more countries lack legal protections for LGBTQI2S+ individuals, leaving them vulnerable to discrimination in employment, healthcare, and in their communities. The implications of these injustices are far-reaching. The fear and prejudice faced by LGBTQI2S+ individuals can lead to elevated rates of mental health issues, substance abuse, and suicide. It can also lead to economic disparity and lost human potential, as LGBTQI2S+ individuals cannot fully participate in society due to fear, discrimination, or legal barriers. Advancing LGBTQI2S+ rights is not just about supporting a specific community but about fostering an environment where everyone can live without discrimination or worse violence. Supporting LGBTQI2S+ rights is about upholding the principles of equality and non-discrimination, which form the bedrock of a just and equitable society. It is about recognizing that the diversity of human experiences and identities is a source of strength, not division.
There’s a saying that a society is judged by how it treats its most vulnerable. When we, as a global society, stand up for the rights and dignity of LGBTQI2S+ individuals, we support those individuals and stand up for the principles of human rights and dignity for all. We affirm that everyone should be free to live authentically and be treated with respect. The fight for LGBTQI2S+ rights and equality is not an isolated issue but an integral part of the broader struggle for human rights. The journey towards a world where everyone is treated with dignity and respect is a shared responsibility. And we all have a role to play. From understanding and education to advocacy and action, every effort counts. Ultimately, we are not just advocating for LGBTQI2S+ rights but for human rights, acceptance, love, and the simple but profound belief that everyone should be free to be who they are.