LGBT Youth on the Streets
Posted by karmalily on September 28, 2009
Homelessness has long been a problem in America, and numerous organizations and programs have been developed in response. Despite this, however, there are many problems left. First, people fail to identify with the homeless people they pass on the street. These people are ignored, ridiculed, and frowned upon as a “nuisance” to society. Second, some groups of homeless people are not receiving the help they need because they are discriminated against even among charities whose mission is to help those very people.
Shannon at the End Homelessness blog at Change.org wrote about the shocking number of LGBT youth living on the streets. She cites a report released by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, which I would like to take a further look at.
According to the report, the reason for the large number of homeless LGBT youth is due to families kicking the individual out of the home after “coming out.” This shouldn’t be shocking to anyone given the current way LGBT people are viewed in this country – homosexual marriage is still illegal in most of the US, hate crimes are committed, religious communities condemn homosexuality as a sin, and such lifestyles are seen as “radical” or comical (i.e., the stereotypical gay friend you see so often on television). The only way to stop such a problem is education to promote a societal change in the way the LGBT community is viewed. And such a thing is not easy to do…
The report goes on to discuss the psychological damage done to LGBT youth, which can ultimately lead to depression, addictions, and violence. One point I would like to emphasize is that
Lack of funding is not the only obstacle preventing LGBT homeless youth from receiving the services they need. … A number of faith-based providers oppose legal and social equality for LGBT people, which raises serious questions about whether LGBT homeless youth can access services in a safe and nurturing environment.”
So essentially, a LGBT youth who is forced out of his/her home may not be able to find help because they will be discriminated against by the assistance programs he/she vitally needs. A few suggestions about improving the circumstances of the homeless LGBT community are cited in the report, such as creating programs specially targeted to this group of people, and teaching people working with homeless people about LGBT issues.