Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Homeless Youth in America

The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force just released their Whitepaper on homeless GLBT youth in the United States. Some of their findings are...

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimates that the number of homeless and runaway youth ranges from 575,000 to 1.6 million per year.1 And, according to the National Runaway Switchboard, up to 42 percent identify as lesbian or gay....

...Family conflict is the primary cause of homelessness for all youth, LGBT or straight.
Specifically, familial conflict over a youth’s sexual orientation or gender identity is a significant factor that leads to homelessness or the need for out-of-home care.3 According to one study, 50 percent of gay teens experienced a negative reaction from their parents when they came out and 26 percent were kicked out of their homes.4
Another study found that more than one-third of youth who are homeless or in the care of social services experienced a violent physical assault when they came out,5 which can lead to youth leaving a shelter or foster home because they actually feel safer on the streets....

...Transgender youth are disproportionately represented in the homeless population. More generally, some reports indicate that one in five transgender individuals need or are at risk of needing homeless shelter assistance.21 However, most shelters are segregated by birth sex, regardless of the individual’s gender identity,22 and homeless transgender youth are even ostracized by some agencies that serve their LGB peers.23...


The full report is 192 pages long, and in it they describe the risk factors that the homeless youth face, drugs, alcohol, prostitution, diseases (AIDS/HIV), violence and crime. We have to stop the hate, stop the bigotry and stop homophobic rhetoric. We have to realize that everyone is different and accept those differences in all of us, that through diversity is strength.
If your son or daughter came to you and told you that they were gay or lesbian or bisexual or transgender what would you do? Would you still love them or would you throw them out on the streets. If a neighbor’s child came out as gay or lesbian or bisexual or transgender what would you do? If you were at a restaurant and a transsexual came in to the restaurant and sat down at the table next to you, what would you do? In this time of peace and goodwill, let us ask ourselves, “Do we accept all of God children”. Look into to your heart for the answer.

2 comments:

Lisa said...

I just cannot understand a parent that would allow their own child, their flesh and blood to be homeless. It makes me terribly angry, at both the parents and society as a whole to stigmatize GLBT youth in such a horrible way. Thanks for sharing this article.

Felicity said...

Actually, I can understand it, and I believe it is a matter of education. At the age of 39, I recently disclosed to my mother that I am pre-op TS, and headed into transition. She took one look at me and asked me if I'd been molesting my nephews. Keeping in mind that she is an "educated" woman, with a Master's degree, she is also highly conservative, deeply religious, and lives in a world full of stereotypes, myths, and urban legends. In her mind, her line of reasoning almost certainly went something like 'he wants to be a woman, so he MUST be gay, so he MUST be a pedophile'. Were I living at home, and dependent on my parents for shelter particularly, I almost certainly would have become homeless that day. I thank God every day for the wisdom and patience to wait until years later when I was out on my own, and I pray fervently for the day when education about GLBT issues becomes mainstream and required.