While the head honchos at the HRC are making 6 figure salaries from donations to support ‘marriage equality’, hundreds of thousands of LGBTQ youth are homeless and are purposely ignored by mainstream gay organizations. The ‘fight’ for same sex marriage has proven to be a profitable business for gay ‘non-profit’ businesses, so it’s no wonder why gay marriage overshadows all other LGBTQ issues. After all, helping the needy results in smaller pay.
Supporting gay marriage doesn’t mean you support the queer struggle. In fact, most ‘allies’ and even a large portion of more fortunate queers don’t know the facts about LGBTQ homelessness, violence against trans* people, high unemployment, discrimination, etc, nor do they bother to research it. They are just concerned about their favorite gay celebrities being able to tie the knot.
If you care about the queer struggle, take a minute of your day to familiarize yourself with some of the disturbing statistics:
- 20 - 40% of homeless youth are LGBTQ. In comparison, the general youth population is only 3-10% LGBTQ.
- LGBTQ youth are twice as likely to experience sexual abuse before the age of 12.
- LGBTQ youth, once homeless, are at higher risk for victimization, mental health problems, and unsafe sexual practices. 58.7% of LGBTQ homeless youth have been sexually victimized compared to 33.4% of heterosexual homeless youth
- LGBTQ youth are roughly 7.4 times more likely to experience acts of sexual violence than heterosexual homeless youth
- LGBTQ homeless youth commit suicide at higher rates (62%) than heterosexual homeless youth (29%)
- At least 20% of ALL transgender people will be homeless sometime in their life.
- 29% of transgender people reported being turned away from a homeless shelter due to their transgender status.
Please consider taking action to help combat LGBTQ homelessness. I suggest making a donation to the Ali Forney Center or volunteering at your local LGBTQ homeless shelter.
This is really important and I’m seeing a lot about this recently because of this Rolling Stone article that just came out.
For anyone wondering about these statistics and how accurate they might be, know that they are unfortunately real. Here are some resources here for you to look at if you’re interested in learning more:
- Center For American Progress (2010) - Gay and Transgender Youth Homelessness By The Numbers
- Center For American Progress (2010) - Seeking Shelter: The Experiences and Unmet Needs of Homeless LGBT Youth
- National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (2006) - LGBT Youth: An Epidemic of Homelessness
- Lambda Legal (2012) - Working With Homeless LGBTQ Youth
I work at a drop-in center in Cambridge, MA that serves homeless and at-risk youth ages 14-24. We see 600 people a year and 37% of them identify as LGBTQIA, which is almost 4X the amount of the general population. Here is a report to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts by the Special Commission on Unaccompanied Homeless Youth that includes stats and info about homeless youth in Boston if anyone wants more data.
Earlier this year, Boston did a point-in-time count of all the homeless youth sleeping outside during one week in January. Across the state, we returned 2000+ surveys (no link to an official report yet). There are currently only 12 youth-specific beds in the greater Boston area. What are the chances that with those small numbers, all official places for homeless youth to go will be LGBTQIA, especially trans, friendly?
If these are the numbers here, think about what it looks like the rest of the country and in cities that are larger than this. Think about the availability of queer-friendly resources in places that aren’t large, liberal cities.
Please get involved on a local level if possible.
Here are a few lists of LGBTQIA-friendly organizations on a local, state-by-state level. They aren’t comprehensive and the Lambda Legal one seems to be outdated, but they’re a place to start.
- State-by-state list of trans-friendly shelters and orgs.
- Alphabetical list of trans and non-binary friendly orgs across the United States.
- State-by-state list of resources for LGBTQIA youth.
Donate to local organizations, volunteer your time, or if those things are unrealistic for you - spread the word. It’s really helpful and really important.
Too many kids who come out to their families as gay end up without funding, without family, and without homes. Do what you can for the local organizations that help LBGT kids have a place to sleep and clean up, get counseling and help in getting jobs and schooling, and find a way to make a life that is their own, and find a way to make the family that loves them for who they are.