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Volume 35
Issue 02
 
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New report reveals epidemic of homelessness among Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender youth
New report reveals epidemic of homelessness among Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender youth
WASHINGTON, Dec.14 - A new report, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender youth: An epidemic of homelessness, released today by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force in collaboration with the National Coalition for the Homeless, reveals an epidemic of homelessness among Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) youth.

According to statistics cited by the federally funded National Runaway Switchboard, up to 42 percent of homeless youth identify as Gay or Lesbian, which is grossly disproportionate given that approximately 3 to 5 percent of the U.S. population identifies as Gay or Lesbian. (Additional research has found that homeless youth also disproportionately identify as Bisexual or Transgender.) Based on these estimates, up to 8,400 of the 15,000 to 20,000 homeless youth estimated to live in New York City are LGBT. Nationwide, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, each year between 570,000 and 1.6 million youth are homeless or run away. This means that up to 672,000 of these youth are LGBT.

The report answers some basic questions, including why so many LGBT youth are becoming and remaining homeless. In addition, it addresses the harassment and violence that many of these youth experience in existing public shelter systems and summarizes research on critical problems affecting these youth, including mental health issues, substance abuse and risky sexual behavior. The report also analyzes the federal government's response to youth homelessness, including the specific impact on LGBT homeless youth of increased federal funding for faith-based service providers.

"The heartbreaking epidemic of homelessness among Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender youth is both fueled and ignored by powerful forces across the country, including many who cloak themselves in 'family values,'" said Matt Foreman, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. "We salute New York City and its City Council for embracing these kids and responding with compassion and resources."

"This study illustrates that the challenges LGBT youth face can become so great that kids are left displaced and homeless. It is crucial that we provide the resources for connecting these young people with safe shelter, health care and educational services. The City Council is proud to have made the needs of LGBT homeless youth a priority, and we will continue our work to ensure these young people get the services they need," said New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn.

The report was released today at City Hall in acknowledgment of the New York City Council's leadership in addressing this issue. Since 2005, more than $2 million has been granted to organizations in the city that provide a variety of vital services to homeless LGBT youth.

These organizations have developed model practice programs that can be replicated at shelters around the country. For example, the report includes a chapter written by Theresa Nolan, division director of the New York-based Green Chimneys, detailing the organization's model transitional living program. New York City has also funded two additional providers that work exclusively with LGBT homeless youth: the Ali Forney Center, headed by Executive Director Carl Siciliano, and Sylvia's Place, where Kate Barnhart is program director. This unprecedented level of funding specifically for helping to house and serve LGBT homeless youth came about through the determined leadership of Councilmembers Lew Fidler, Alan Gerson and Speaker Christine Quinn.

A Task Force press release

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