Lost and Found: LGBTQ Youth Crisis.
Many people believe now that marriage equality has been achieved that Gay Rights Movement is essentially over. That there is no longer a need for one. These folks couldn’t be more wrong. There are still many issues still facing LGBTQ+ persons in the western world. I’d like to bring your attention to what I consider the most urgent need in the community: Queer and Trans Youth homelessness.
Did you know that 40 percent of homeless youth in America identify as LGBTQ? Further 68% of these youth were kicked out of their homes due to their sexual and gender identities. And a heart breaking 54% reported having experienced abuse at the hands of their families. Coming out is a really difficult and scary process, imagine on top of fear of bullying and peer rejection that you didn’t have the protection and support of your family?!
LGBTQ+ homeless youth are extremely vulnerable. They not only are more likely to experience depression and post traumatic stress disorders than their heterosexual peers but have an increased risk of exploitation and HIV. Most alarming of all is 62 percent of LGBTQ+ youth attempt suicide.
LGBTQ+ youth face real dangers and challenges in the communities and cultures which they are apart of due to homophobic beliefs systems. Regardless of new LGBTQ+ rights and laws, homophobic culture still exists and continues to oppress and discriminate against LGBTQ+ persons. It takes much longer to change beliefs systems and cultures then it does legislation. Establishing legal framework is just the first step, enforcing it and making the legal principals a part of culture can take generations. This is why the LGBTQ movement is still so very important.
So what can you to help fight LGBTQ+ homelessness? Here are a few easy things you can do.
- Promote Love: Be an ambassador at school, home and among your peers. Talk about and promote LGBTQ+ equality and acceptance. Get others involved too.
- Support LGBTQ+ youth at school and in your community. You never know who could be at risk of homelessness or homeless. Be-friend and be a good friend to Queer youth. Kindness goes a long way.
- If someone you know is having problems at home, or has been kicked out. Encourage them to go to school support staff. Many shelters and programs exist that can help. Help them find resources to stay safe and warm.
- Donate gently used clothes to shelters and organizations that house and care for LGBTQ+ youth.
Stay safe and love one another.