Forty percent of the homeless youth served by agencies identify as LGBT
LGBT individuals face social isolation, discrimination, and rejection by their own families, which add to the physical and emotional strains/challenges, which all homeless individuals must wrestle with. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) youth constitutes approximately 7% of the total youth population. Forty-three percent of clients served by drop-in centers identified as LGBT; 30% of street outreach clients identified as LGBT; 30% of clients utilizing housing programs identified as LGBT.
Homeless LGBT individuals have significant difficulty locating shelters which accept and respect them. LGBT individuals experiencing homelessness are at an increased risk of violence, abuse, and exploitation compared with their heterosexual peers. Transgender individuals are particularly at a heightened risk of physical violence due to a lack of acceptance and are often turned away from shelters. In some cases, signs have been posted excluding them from admittance.
In my teens, being LGBTQ wasn’t really acknowledged and I admit to being ignorant of the plight of a few LGBTQ youth back then. But since when has it been acceptable to subject a child to living on the streets because they are LGBTQ? The thought of this is truly horrifying as it is abusive. The LGBTQ are human beings, created as the rest of us and are of equal status. Their sexual orientation should NEVER be an excuse to rob them of a childhood and human dignity.
A couple of years back, I parted ways with a very dear friend of nearly twenty years because their family image was more important than being a loving parent to their LGBTQ youth. My novella, “Vita’s Boy” was inspired by this series of events. I’m convinced one of the the best things we can do for this community is to validate their importance and celebrate their differences early in life. Hopefully, this will diminish unnecessary lifelong pain and struggle.
In the meantime, we should endorse social organizations which support our LGBTQ youth.