There are approximately 1.6 million to 2.8 million homeless young people in the United States and a disproportionate number — 20 to 40 percent — are gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender. LGBT youth often run away from home because of family conflict and then “face overt discrimination when seeking alternative housing, which is compounded by institutionalized discrimination in federally funded programs.”
Last night, a local CBS affiliate in Miami, Florida offered an in-depth look into the crisis of LGBT youth homelessness and the children who are put out “like trash” by parents who refuse to accept them:
Studies show that 320,000 to 400,000 gay and transgender youth face homelessness each year and that many lose their homes at the young age of 13 or 14, as they come out to their parents. Fortunately, the Department of Health and Human Services is already providing “training and technical assistance to States and Indian Tribes on a wide variety of LGBTQ-related issues” and the Obama administration has released recommendations for providing the best possible care in shelters for homeless LGBT youth.
But still, more must be done. There are currently no federal programs specifically designed to meet the needs of gay and transgender homeless youth and federal grant awards for homeless youth services “are being awarded to providers without mandating that they not discriminate based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
As the Center for American Progress has recommended, President Obama should issue an executive order “recognizing both lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender homeless youth and homeless youth in general as special-needs populations, and protecting them from discrimination by federal grantees” and the federal government must begin developing programs “that help families from all communities support and nurture their gay and transgender children.”
Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) has also introduced the Reconnecting Youth to Prevent Homelessness Act, a bill “designed to help homeless youth rejoin their families and escape life on the streets.” The measure calls for a “demonstration project for improving family relationships and reducing homelessness for LGBT youth” and the development of programs “that improve family relationships and reduce homelessness for LGBT youth.”