Monday, July 12, 2010

What About The Children? LGBT Homeless Youth

(Thanks to ENC Communication Intern Matthew McGibney.)

The Obama administration listened to the voices of LGBT advocates last month as it crafted a plan to attack homelessness in America.

The new plan, titled “Opening Doors: Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent & End Homelessness 2010,” was crafted by the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessnes. It addresses, among other things, the role of outreach to LGBT youth in the war against homelessness.

U.S. Housing & Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donavan said LGBT youth are often subjected to harassment that can lead to becoming homeless, as well as further discrimination on the streets.

“What I would say is so many of those at risk of homelessness are marginalized in various ways,” Donavan said in an interview with the Washington Blade. “As we’ve seen with youth, those who age out of foster care … [and] who are ostracized and targeted because of their gender identity or sexual orientation are one of the populations that are at increased risk for homelessness."

The plan came after the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force and the National Coalition for the Homeless issued a ground-breaking report on the state of LGBT homeless youth. The report indicated that between 20 percent and 40 percent of homeless youth identify as LGBT, which is a huge problem by itself. But it's made even worse, according to the report, because they then face discrimination at many shelters, as well as anti-gay preaching at religious-based shelters.

The Obama administration plan also recognized that some of the youth were pushed from their home specifically because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, so it's not always best to try and reunify them with their families.

The LGBT homeless youth constitute an important facet of the homelessness problem in America, and it's good to see this is being addressed in a national plan and on the national level.

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