Wednesday, March 04, 2020

The Forgotten.

They are the ones we don’t like to talk about, they are the ones hiding in the shadows.
A tour inside the nation’s largest LGBTQ+ organization helping homeless youth
PBS Chasing the Dream
January 9, 2020

About seven percent of the total youth population in the United States identifies as LGBTQ+, yet they make up a staggering 40 percent of the total US homeless youth population, aged 13-24. According to estimates by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, there are around 160,000 individuals aged 24 and under experiencing homelessness. With a 24-hour Drop-in Center located in Harlem and housing programs throughout New York City, the Ali Forney Center hopes to be a part of the solution.
Did you get that?

“... they make up a staggering 40 percent of the total US homeless youth population.”

I knew a trans women who was thrown out of her house as a teenager and forced to live off the street. When the police arrested her and found out she was trans, she was beaten by.  She lived from homeless shelter to homeless shelters until she ended up here in Connecticut. Here she was able to get Section 8 housing, get a job, get her GED.
The Needs of LGBTQ+ Youth
LGBTQ+ people have different needs than their cis- and heterosexual counterparts that other non-LGBT specific shelters may not have. The Ali Forney Center provides hormone replacement therapy for transgender clients, as well as simply providing a safe space for LGBTQ+ people. As Carl Siciliano, the Founder and Executive Director of the Ali Forney Center, says:

“Kids still tell me that they get beaten up and harassed at [non-LGBT specific homeless organizations]… A lot of young people that are faced with those kinds of hostilities will choose to stay in the streets rather than to be in a site where they feel like they’re being targeted with violence from other young people and kind of really degrading judgement [sic] from the providers.”
When I was interning for my MSW I went to a meeting for meeting at the Judicial Support Services and they were looking for a shelter for a trans girl and her story brought me tears.

She ran away from home and ended up in the Bridgeport bus station where she was picked up by a pimp. The pimp hooked her on heroin and sent her out on the streets to work for him where she was arrested. She turned state evidence and testified against him and he put out a contract on her, and she was shot on the court steps after she testified.

At the Judicial Support Services meeting they said that the FBI wouldn’t put her into a witness protection service because the pimp was too small of a fry for them. No shelters were equipped for a teenage heroin addict with a contract on her head.
Siciliano belives LGBTQ+ advocates are not putting a big enough emphasis on LGBTQ+ poverty, and have rather been more focused in the past on civil issues like same-sex marriage:

“I’m not arguing against [the LGBTQ+ community’s advocacy]. Obviously we should not be treated as unequal in our society and the laws should treat us as equal citizens. But I also think that it’s the responsibility of a disenfranchised community to make sure that their tax dollars go to support the most marginalized parts of that community… Homophobia and transphobia have severe economic consequences on young people, and there’s just not, in my view, nearly an aggressive enough advocacy around that. It’s like if we’re not demanding it, it’s never going to happen.”
I would have to agree and I think that many adult LGBTQ+ community organizations just don’t know how care for homeless teenagers. There is an organization that caters to LGBTQ+ youth, True Colors in Hartford and they work with DCF to help find shelters and foster parents. In addition they have a mentoring program for the children and run a drop-in center for LGBTQ+ young adults.

It I hard being trans, but it is even harder for youth to be trans and homeless.

No comments:

Post a Comment