The legal issues facing youth experiencing homelessness are complicated and multi-faceted. When the legal problems of LGBTQ2S youth experiencing homelessness are neither identified nor addressed, the consequences that exacerbate or cause homelessness persist. For illustration, if a young person loses their employment due to discrimination based on sexual orientation, they may be unable to pay their rent. Or if a young person is assaulted by a roommate who learns they are transgender, and both are charged by the police, they will be given a bail condition that does not allow them to be within 100 metres of each other, and they may become homeless if they have no other resources to rely upon. Addressing the underlying legal needs of LGBTQ2S youth experiencing homelessness is a vital step in removing the barriers to access and maintain stable housing. Ideally, legal steps are taken early enough to prevent homelessness from occurring in the first place.
This chapter will provide an overview of the most common legal issues experienced by LGBTQ2S youth experiencing homelessness, and will cover a rights-based framework of how to identify and meet the legal needs of this population. The information and case studies contained in this chapter have been collected through the ongoing work of the Street Youth Legal Services program of Justice for Children and Youth.