The gay rights movement has not been good about dealing with the issue of homeless gay youth, and depending on the study, somewhere between 30 and 40 percent of homeless youths identify as LGBT, reported National Public Radio, this past weekend.
According to one advocate, it’s largely because gay youths are kicked out of their homes more often than straight youths, and even if they are not kicked out, many LGBT kids leave looking for the acceptance they don’t find at home.
Carl Siciliano, the founder and executive director of the Ali Forney Center in New York, which he describes as the nation’s largest organization dedicated to homeless LGBT youth, said the modern gay rights movement “was articulated and thought out at a time when it was almost all adults coming out.”
But as the years have gone on, he says, “it has become clear to me that we are living in a societal moment, where kids are coming out at younger and younger ages, and there are so many parents who can’t be parents to their gay kids. They can’t cope, they can’t deal with it, their religion is in conflict with the reality of their kids’ lives, and these kids are getting thrown away.”
In New York City, nearly 4,000 young people are homeless every night — many of them gay, reported NPR.
“We have framed our fight for equality in adult terms, and almost all the victories we have won only really benefit the adults in our community,” Siciliano said.
“It is not so much laws with the kids; it is economics. It’s a fight for resources. That’s what our community hasn’t quite gotten yet; we have to fight for resources to protect our kids. How dare we say ‘it gets better’ to the kids if we are not willing to fight to make sure they have what they need.”
Siciliano said there are only 250 beds for 3,800 homeless kids in New York City, and waiting lists are huge.