Across the country, LGBTQ youth are particularly vulnerable to homelessness. In fact, consistent research shows that of the nearly two million young people who are affected by homelessness each year, up to 40 percent identify as LGBT, even though they make up only five to 10 percent of the overall youth population. Many homeless LGBTQ young people cite family rejection as one of the most common reasons for being homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.
The first-ever homeless youth survey in Washington, D.C. has confirmed this terrible reality: 43 percent of the city’s homeless youth identify as LGBT. Though this announcement is distressing, LGBT service providers across the city, as well as the office of Mayor Muriel Bowser are devoted to tackling this issue. Bowser’s administration, in partnership with Verizon, has directed a number of grants to increase the services available to LGBTQ youth.
Under the leadership of Ruby Corado, Casa Ruby, an organization HRC proudly supports, has done tremendous work to help the most vulnerable people in the LGBT community. Casa Ruby is also a recipient of one of Mayor’s grants, and will continue to combat the problem of LGBTQ youth homelessness.
Corado told reporters that, ironically, the fact that nearly half of homeless youth in the nation’s capital are LGBT speaks to one of D.C.’s strengths.
“We’re in the nation’s capital, a city that is traditionally and now becoming one of the friendliest LGBT cities in the country,” Corado told the Washington Post. She estimates that up to 70% of homeless youth come to D.C. from outside the city, due to its more inclusive reputation.
Congress can help protect homeless LGBT youth by passing the Runaway and Homeless Youth and Trafficking Prevention Act, which would reauthorize critical programs for homeless youth, including prevention, emergency shelters, street outreach, transitional living, and assistance in rural areas. Importantly, the proposed legislation includes an explicit non-discrimination provision that would prohibit any provider of these services from discriminating against youth based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. HRC will continue to work closely with the sponsors of this important legislation.
Next month, the HRC Foundation, in partnership with the National Education Association and the American Counseling Association, will present the third annual Time To THRIVE conference in Dallas, Texas. The conference has attracted hundreds of people who play crucial roles in the everyday lives of LGBTQ youth - from teachers, counselors, clergy, and coaches, to staff from youth development organizations including scouting and Boys and Girls Clubs, to promote safety, inclusion and well-being for LGBTQ youth everywhere. Gatherings like these help to combat LGBTQ youth homelessness, and ensure that LGBTQ youth feel accepted for who they are and whom they love. To register for Time to THRIVE, please visit Timetothrive.org.
Learn more about how the Human Rights Campaign is taking action to make a difference for homeless LGBT youth HERE.